DALLAS - In the movie "Lethal Weapon" Mel Gibson plays Martin Riggs, an LA cop and Vietnam Vet who says early in the film: "When I was 19, I did a guy in Laos from a thousand yards out. It was a rifle shot in high wind. Maybe eight or even ten guys in the world could have made that shot. It's the only thing I was ever good at."
I posed such a scenario today to U.S. military squad leader, expert marksmen, and paralympic shooter, Josh Olson. Is what Martin Riggs' claimed to have done actually possible?
"Oh yeah. I've done that," Olson said. "With technology now, we have seven different shooting teams in the Army and one of them, that's what they do - they shoot at great distances. Those guys do it with iron sights all day long. They are hitting that target (he makes a very small box with his hands) at 1,000 yards."
ME: So you could do it?
Josh Olson: Yeah.
ME: You could be Mel Gibson?
Josh Olson: I'm better than that.
In fairness to Martin Riggs, the movie was released in 1987 and he was a Vietnam Vet. Totally different equipment.
Olson enlisted in the military in 1997, and was a squad commander in 2003 in Iraq. In October of that year, Olson's squad was hit by an RPG attack.
"I remember a white flash out of the corner of my eye. It felt like I had the wind knocked out of me," he said.
He was put in a medically induced coma, and transported to Walter Reed Hospital in D.C. He woke up eight days after the attack, and his lower right leg had been removed.
"When I woke up there was my family, and I said, 'What are you doing here? It's not safe,'" Olson said. "I didn't even know I was in the hospital. I thought I was still back in Iraq."
During his 18-month stay in the hospital, Olson was awarded his Purple Heart by President George W. Bush. Olson was already a good shot, and eventually found his way to the U.S. Paralympic team.
He still has his spot in the military as an active member.
"It just got passed that we now have 24 new spots for wounded veterans to stay on active duty and become comptetive marksmen and marksmen instructors," Olson said. "Through my injury and hard work of myself and my teammates we just created 24 new jobs that were never there before."
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