“Customer Service, How May I…Sir, Are You Being Shot At?”

3390750 Customer Service, How May I...Sir, Are You Being Shot At?

A U.S. Marine with Headquarters and Service Battalion fires the M240B machine gun during a live-fire weapons familiarization exercise at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., April 5, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Micha R. Pierce)

by Jake Hughes

There are a lot of “Aw, crap” moments when you serve in the military: when you forget about a barracks inspection until the 1SG knocks on your door, when you drove 10 miles to work and forgot your ID to get on post– or when you’re driving your tank out in the forest and mistake the giant pool of water for a shallow puddle and dive under and see that wave of ice cold water rushing towards you in the middle of February. Just take my word for it on that last one.

But very few things can make you… uh, we’ll say “vociferate colorful euphemisms” louder than your weapon jamming in the middle of a fire fight.

If you’ve served in the military, you know about remedial action. It’s what you do when your weapon won’t fire. The Army uses the acronym S.P.O.R.T.S: Slap, Pull, Observe, Release, Tap, Squeeze. That may work for normal weapons, but for huge weapons like, say the M107 Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle, you need a bit more “oomph” to get it working. So what’s a Marine to do when said weapon jams in the middle of a fire fight?

Call tech support, obviously!

What? You wouldn’t?

Don Cook is a Marine Corps veteran who works for Barrett as a customer service representative, and that’s just the kind of call he got in 2016.

“It was probably one of the highlights of my life, to be able to help a Marine Unit like that,” Don revealed in an episode of National Geographic’s Snipers, Inc.

The Marine on the other end of the line—though small arms fire and mortar attacks—told Don that his weapon wouldn’t reliably fire. Don quickly identified the problem: two tongs on the upper receiver were bent upwards.

“The only thing I could tell them, due to a lack of tools, was to take the bolt carrier out of the rifle and use it to bang them tongs back into shape.” That’s right: to get the weapon to fire, take it apart—again, in the middle of an active fire fight—and bang one part against another. If that ain’t the most Marine thing you could do to fix a weapon, I don’t know what is.

Well, this MacGyvered solution seems to have worked, because the Marine politely told Don, “Thank you, but we have more important matters to attend to at the moment,” and hung up the phone.

You can watch the episode below. Don tells his story at the 9:12 mark.

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