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NEWS | July 31, 2017

Army Reserve Soldier is trained not to be seen

By Sgt. Russell Toof 99th Regional Support Command

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Sgt. Ian Rivera-Aponte lies motionless in the tall grass, hidden by face paint and his ghillie suit. He stares down the scope of his M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle and waits to take the shot. This is the life of a sniper.

Rivera-Aponte is a third-generation servicemember. His father served and his grandfather fought in Vietnam. Seventy-nine percent of Soldiers come from families that have served in the military.

“I’m just trying to carry on that family legacy,” he said.

Originally from Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, he’s part of the only infantry unit in the Army Reserve, the 100th Infantry Battalion out of Fort Shafter, Hawaii.

He’s tremendously skilled at his craft. His personal best shot was a target 2,450 meters away.

Rivera-Aponte was one of six Soldiers who were recently flown here for a photoshoot with Army Reserve Communications, Army Marketing and Research Group and United States Army Recruiting Command. He’ll be featured on upcoming commercials and posters.

During his three days on post, he spoke frequently of his proudest moment out of his six years of service.

“I had a guy and was his team lead and I was able to train him up on how to do everything a sniper would do, and he got to go to sniper school and he was a first-time go. It was a huge accomplishment because he was my pupil and I got to mold him. I was extremely happy,” he said.

With recent popular movies like “American Sniper,” “Lone Survivor” and “Shooter,” Rivera-Aponte was asked about how realistic those are compared to what he goes through with his unit.

“I laugh at some of the movies and the way they portray snipers, but they are entertaining,” he said. “Things that would take days to prepare they do it in five minutes.”

Jokes aside, he is gearing up toward a unique opportunity this October.

“The International Sniper Competition happens in October. Every branch of the military will send a team. Myself and another team leader are going. Just the fact that we got invited is an achievement. We’ll be the first Army Reserve Soldiers to ever attend,” he said.

The competition takes place Oct. 15 through Oct. 21 at Fort Benning, Georgia. The goal of the competition will be to identify the best sniper team from a wide range of agencies and organizations that includes the U.S. military, international militaries, and local, state and federal law enforcement.