Michael's Dispatches

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:



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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bruce Anderson · 4 years ago
    Well done and well written senor!!! Handmade always works the best. Nice job on Bin Laden. 'preciate the effort mightily!!!!!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Scott Wills · 4 years ago
    Serves some self important ID10T to receive an answer like that. Quick thinking saves lives. Might have cost me mine though, because I was laughing so hard!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Texas2Step · 4 years ago
    Freakin' amazing! It is a good thing you had a source for bullets handy. I always have to melt down old tire weights and pour them into a bullet mold. Thanks to your DIY description, I now know I can just motor over to the East side of town, where there are enough shootings to ensure a small but steady supply of bullets.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Steve · 4 years ago
    MY, Funny article. Haven't heard from you in a while. With all the events going on all you say is your watching Korea situation. Usually count on you for your unique viewpoint. Get off your ass.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Corbeck · 4 years ago
    I would have expected no less from a Special Forces man. :-)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Pete Eisenmann · 4 years ago
    Great response. Too bad there wasn't a slingshot nearby, you might have been able to kill a bird, get the feathers, fashion an arrow or two, make a bow out of a whittled down door jamb and some twine. Might have saved you 5 seconds or so. Effing beautiful.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bob · 4 years ago
    Chuck Norris style.

    The reader has no clue the path you have carved.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Rick Singel · 4 years ago
    Michael, been awhile. Have missed your narratives.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Kathy Brown · 4 years ago
      Ditto! I've missed you, too, Michael Yon! I saw WINTER HAVEN on the map while checking-out a Bing picture. YOU came to mind and 10 minutes later, here I am! Gotta put you back on my radar. Have so enjoyed your articles/books through the years! Hope all is well with you!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Matthew · 4 years ago
    Loved it!! Thanks Michael! What FB page was this posted to? Glad to hear from you. :-)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Chris Brosnahan · 4 years ago
    Great answer for a stupid question...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Chris Brosnahan · 4 years ago
    Great answer for a stupid question...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    David · 4 years ago
    :lol: Do you have to deal with that 'white noise' often?
    I reload a bunch and I approve of your style. The KNO is kinda raunchy tho.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    malclave · 4 years ago
    It's true... Russian hackers were able to find video of the incident:

  • This commment is unpublished.
    John Reece · 4 years ago
    That load might be enough for Al Qaeda, but what about a Gorn?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dan · 4 years ago
    Pharmacy? Wimp. Captain Kirk mined his own with his own bare hands.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    koblog · 4 years ago
    Your forgot to size the spent cartridges and trim them to exact length the so the crimp would fall into the bullet's ferrule.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Thomas Dikel · 4 years ago
    Aha! FINALLY I found out what that push-in doodad on the left side of the handle that you shove in when the M-16 jams (again) is called in English - Forward assist! I've been waiting... wait a minute... 70s... 80s... 90s... anyway, a long @!$%#ing time to find out. I could never figure out how to ask anyone because by the time I finish with the doodad and the flat-head there next to the handle-thing... the look of disgust on the listener is so intense that I give up and move on. Also, its one of those things that comes up maybe once every 14 1/2 years or so. Oh yeah, good thing you didn't have to tell them how you got the bullets out of the bodies after you opened them up. I'll bet they think you used the blade. BWAHahahahahaha!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    General Bones · 4 years ago
    Thanks Thomas! LMAO! The funniest part of this story is that his first shot, (of reloaded ammo hits a fully loaded propane tank which rockets out of the room nearly taking the head off the Gunnie, Michael AND the wounded colonel sitting in the alley between the storage units! After it was all over the Gunnie comes over, relieves him of his borrowed rifle and respectfully requests that from now on, to please constrain himself to shooting his camera!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    thomass · 4 years ago
    you went full Captain Kirk with that.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    General Bones · 4 years ago
    One more thing, be sure to read Sargent Clint Romesha's "Red Platoon". You will not be able to put it down, once your pick it up!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    thinksink · 4 years ago
    Taught that p___y a thing or two. Thanks, Michael.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Edward. Fullerton · 4 years ago
    Michael , Only useful thing I can add is.....Pick up the rosary& don't forget to add " litany of Fatima " !.afghan/Pakistan . perversity problem you referred to in previous post some years back. China interesting. UK referendum , one American guy through brit media ... said vote blindsided aforesaid, now its the silk road , which presents influx of migrants. Only Mary mother of God , conduit of God's providence can resolve all. You mentioned the fear of women in those countries , indeed justified fear. The many sacrifices of your military.61 million abortions US/5 Uk/ x amount republic of Ireland , which UK governments hideously assist in.Did not Jesus make reference too above during his ..stumbling walk to Calvary. I cannot promise to donate anything , out of work 6 year old am I , yours in , Jesus , Mary&Joseph..
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Edward. Fullerton · 4 years ago
    Michael , Aptly named by your parents. Call ...collect given my previous/and your post.Tactly speaking sound comments as regards military intervention. Thiers more than enough Hitlers to go around what ever span in history were talking about. I take it your response to Mitchell was vague wit ?.Cf , We've got to believe what saint Paul said in one of his epistles " where sin abounds God's grace abounds even more , yours in , Jesus , Mary&Joseph.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Peter Wall · 4 years ago
    Mr. Yon practiced self preservation a normal reaction.
    Mr. Spillmen, you would prefer that Mr. Yon be murdered by some Islamic radical? Don't bother
    answering that question I know your pathetic answer.
    Good day Sir.

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