In moving to a designated hide, my scout and I were moving briskly, building-to-building in Iraq. Our mission was classified.

As we crossed a street, I heard a crack—the all-too-familiar sound of an AK. I dropped my M24 sniper rifle: It seemed like I’d been hit as I watched my hands shake. I did a quick self-assessment but couldn’t find evidence that I’d been shot. All of this happening in a moment, I reached down to pick up my rifle and the first thought that crossed my mind was “Shit!” My scope had a hole in it, right through the tube. My mission was surely over.

The hole was made by an enemy’s 7.62x39mm round intended for me. For some reason, I pulled the rifle into my shoulder and peered through the painted Nightforce scope. I was surprised to still see through the lens, although dull, it worked. A function test revealed that the turrets still worked and the reticule remained intact. Unfortunately, the power adjustment was stuck on 15. I checked forward to my scout, who had stopped behind a piece of cover. Baffled, I shrugged my shoulders and cut a piece of duct tape from a roll in my pack. With sand constantly airborne, I wanted to seal the tube as best as I could so I wrapped up the scope. To my amazement, we were able to complete our mission.

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In moving to a designated hide, my scout and I were moving briskly, building-to-building…