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Iraq: How I got the Ammo to shoot at the al Qaeda Guy


15 June 2017

Yesterday, a busy Facebook page published some of my work.  This sparked lively conversation. Some Soldiers cued me in. The story revolved around an intense, close firefight in Mosul that ended with hand-to-hand combat and my finding an empty M-4 rifle, loading it and firing.

Pardon the language, but in the comments a reader named Mitchell Spillman asked:
“Want to explain to me how the fuck the journalist reloaded a rifle? Whered he pull the mag from, his ass?”

I answered:


Solid question. Thank you.

Josh is right.

This is how it happened:

I had a reloading bench with me.

I found empty shell casings on the ground. Picked them up. Quickly found sulphur, charcoal, and saltpeter in a local pharmacy.

My mouth was dry from dehydration so I ground it up between my teeth, an entire mouthful of gunpowder, and began spitting it into the shell cases that I had primed. (I always keep 30 primers next to my tourniquet.)

I then cut bullets out of dead al Qaeda bodies and capped the bullets. I was concerned that the gunpowder would be too weak or that I got the ratio wrong, but it tasted about right. This all took about 30 seconds and there was not much time.

I then loaded my 30 MacGyver rounds into an empty magazine.

Put the magazine into the M-4. Slapped it in. Hit the bolt release. Hit the forward assist. Switched from auto to semi.

I then used five rounds to zero the iron sites on a 25m target. (It was the best I could do.)

From there I joined battle and killed bin Laden.

That’s how I got the ammo.

Thanks for asking.


Screenshot of the original question:


Michael Yon

Michael Yon is America's most experienced combat correspondent. He has traveled or worked in 82 countries, including various wars and conflicts.

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