View Full Version : Marine’s shooting of Iraqi soldier probed

04-28-03, 03:18 PM
April 28, 2003

Marine’s shooting of Iraqi soldier probed

Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — Military officials are investigating a Marine who says he shot an Iraqi soldier twice in the back of the head following a grenade attack on his comrades.
The Marine Corps Reserve announced the preliminary inquiry of Gunnery Sgt. Gus Covarrubias on Friday, the day the Las Vegas Review-Journal published an interview in which he described the killing.

Covarrubias, 38, of Las Vegas, said that during an intense battle in Baghdad on April 8, he pursued a member of the Iraqi Republican Guard who fired a rocket-propelled grenade at his unit. Covarrubias said he received a concussion in the attack and several other Marines also were injured.

Covarrubias, a 20-year Marine veteran, said he found the soldier inside a nearby home with the grenade launcher by his side. Covarrubias said he ordered the man to stop and forced him to turn around.

“I went behind him and shot him in the back of the head. Twice,” Covarrubias told the Review-Journal.

He said he also shot the man’s partner, who tried to escape. He showed what he said were the men’s ID cards.

“I’m not vindictive, and I might get in trouble for telling you this, but I take it very personally when you do that to my family,” Covarrubias said. “The Marines are my family.”

The Marine Forces Reserve said the preliminary inquiry by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service will determine whether Covarrubias “met the established rules of engagement and complied with the law of war,” and whether a formal investigation is warranted.

Calls to Covarrubias’ home and knocks at the door went unanswered Friday.

Marine reservist Sgt. Michael Dunn, who fought alongside Covarrubias and was injured in the battle, said he stands by him “100 percent.”

“If he wouldn’t have done it, those guys probably would’ve come back and killed or severely injured other Marines,” Dunn said. “He did the right thing.”

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press.



04-28-03, 06:10 PM
Why is it when ever one of our Marines is doing his job and saving other Marines he can be tried as a criminal????
It is war, I do not think the Iraqis would ask a Marine to turn around so he can shoot him in the chest.
Things like this really tic me off I think they are just looking for a scape goat.To bad we could not get all the Marines in the US to show up at his hearing for support
Semper FI Gunnyyou did good in my book.

04-29-03, 08:12 AM
Just a Marine doing his job.

04-29-03, 08:40 AM
Hi everyone! I took this off of another board..Another Marine posted it. Thought you guys would like to see it.

I found this post on Military.com and thought it contained some insight and perspective that folks here may like to read. I know the author and he is a veteran of some savage combat in Vietnam (Hue City, etc) and served as an NCO and SNCO during his 3 tours there.

For what it is worth, I do think the Gunny has most likely embellished his story more than a little. I also think it was rather naive of him to not think that once the story was printed that there would not be immediate and huge backlash about it from the chain of command. I spoke with a Marine in his Reserve chain of command and he said that there is huge interest in this story from the highest levels. In other words, some senior folks are in the position of having made a huge outcry against the Iraqis supposedly executing some of the Army POW's (Jessica Lynch's unit)and now they are defending themslves against folks asking why Iraqis cannnot do such thing when Americans can?!

Despite what some folks may believe, if the story went down like he related it, the vast majority of people who understand the laws of land warfare (all of our soldiers and Marines are trained in this)will view his killing of the Iraqi as an execution of an enemy soldier that had been disarmed and was cooperating.

For those who have been out of the military for a while, you should know that since the end of the Vietnam war, there is far more training regarding handling POWs and noncombatants given to our troops than in the past. Post-Vietnam operations typically involve more civilians and more enemy soldiers surrendering or being captured than in the past and it was wisely seen that the troops needed to be trained to handle these situations. Semper Fi

--------------------START OF POST FROM MILITARY.COM------------------
"Covarrubias, who said he was a former sniper with more than 30 kills during the first Gulf War, told the Review-Journal he took off most of his gear, grabbed a pistol and told the others in his unit that he was leaving for a little while."

I wonder if Top Hicks or anyone in the sniper community knows of any Marine sniper in the Gulf War with 30 confirmed kills? His reserve unit was attached to mine during that entire operation, and I can say with certainty that no sniper in the unit came close to such a number of shots..........not even remotely close.

Also, the bit about "leaving for a little while" sounds a bit out of character for a Gunny who has a unit to look after and care for.

Methinks the Gunny may have embellished his story more than a tad and he is going to have to either stick by what he said and face the music (for killing an enemy soldier that surrendered) or he has to swallow his pride and admit that he was less than truthful in his account of what happened that day. We'll have to wait and see what develops in this case, but it's clear the Gunny is going to lose a lot any way you look at it.

For those who wonder how someone can get in trouble for killing an enemy soldier, realize that the laws of land warfare (which we do follow), and all of the training Marines receive stress that once an enemy combatant surrenders or is rendered incapable of resistance, he is to be safeguarded (tied up, etc) and sent to the rear for interrogation, etc.

Americans don't kill enemy POW's, that's the bottom line. Incidents like the My Lai massacre prompted big changes in the way we were and are trained to treat enemy POWs and noncombatants who happen to be in the combat zone.

We will fight an enemy unit and wipe them out to a man if thats what it takes to defeat them, but once they surrender and we have them under our control, we do not execute them, period.

History shows that actions like this only lead to retribution from the other side and ultimately, every POW on both sides stands to get a bullet in the head. It's bad business and Americans are trained not to act like this.

Remember how incensed we all were when we heard the Iraqis may have executed some of the soldiers who were captured with Jessica Lynch's unit? If they did this and we can catch the people who did it, they will be brought before a military tribunal as war criminals. They will be found guilty and they will most likely be executed.

If the Gunny shot an unarmed prisoner who was clearly cooperating with him, what makes what he did any different than what the Iraqis did to our soldiers? Think about it.

This is not about being soft or treating the enemy with kid gloves. Killing POWs is not taking care of your Marines, it does just the opposite, it ensures that they will be executed if they are unfortunate enough to fall into enemy hands. Those who say such things and resort to macho posturing usually, in my experience, have little, if any, real combat experience in front line Infantry units that have experienced real no-sh-it close quarters fighting.

Just my two cents. Semper Fi.
---------------------END OF POST FROM MILITARY.COM-----------------

04-29-03, 10:59 AM
I find it hard to believe that a sniper who boasts of 30 kills, (true or false) would make a pistol his choice of weapons when he went after the bad guys.

I think he should be given the toilet seat award for stupidity and made to wear it around his neck for the next six months.

Whatever else happens, he can kiss goodby his hopes of getting on a police force after retirement.

His defense is already documented. Post-concussion syndrome.

I'd hate to be in his shoes until this is finished.

I wonder if he had dreams of being the hero of a war movie when he gave that interview to the press?

On second thought, he should also be awarded a full bedpan to wear on his head like a helmet.

Stupidity in action!

04-29-03, 11:10 AM
I read all this yesterday and I came away with a couple of thoughts. Like FirstSgt Mike above, this is one stupid Marine, if for no other reason that he can't keep his mouth shut. Secondly there seems to be much about this story that just does not ring true to me. Regardless though since he did shoot his mouth off it would seem he'll be dealing with some serious s**t for the forseeable future. It will be interesting to track this through.

04-29-03, 01:43 PM
This whole thing smells

Roberto T. Cast
04-30-03, 09:41 PM
Shoot first, ask questions later. I would have done the same thing. I do not want this bastard Iraqi to return during the cover of night and give him the opportunity to finish the job started. I would classify it as taking care of business and not as a personal macho thing. But I would have never said a thing.

As to the My Lai Massacre involving Lt Calley during the Vietnam War, I sure there were other incidents like the one Lt. Calley was involve in but were never reported. Remember WAR IS HELL and Lt. Calley was made a scapgoat by the politicians who ran the Vietnam War. This was done to appease the war protesters. If you remember his punishment, it was house arrest for a number of months or perhap limited years.

04-30-03, 10:01 PM
I agree with SgtMaj. DickL...something stinks...went by himself, without any backup.
Good way to windup DEAD.
Executing prisoners isn't the way to go.
Now he in hot water and the Marine Corps will look into how many articles of the UCMJ he violated.
Both are traits not worthy of any NCO.
What lesson did he send to many in his command?
Shoot first, ask questions later.
Might this back-fire?
So from all this...something stinks.

Semper Fidelis