The female Air Force sniper who shot a Taliban bomber –Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

A forwarded email with a photo and story of an unnamed 19 year old former cheerleader who is now a U.S. Air Force Security Forces Sniper. The email says that she shot a Taliban dead in his tracks from 725 yards away while he was trying to plant an improvised explosive device.

The Truth:

This story of the 19 year old cheerleader and the 725 yard shot that killed the Taliban is fiction.  Both the story and the poster are contrived.

The young lady in the photograph is real and is in fact a U. S. Air Force sniper and a hero in her own right.  Senior Airman Polly-Jan Bobseine is  a Journeyman in the 823rd Security Forces Squadron stationed at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia.    According to her bio, Airman Bobseine joined the Air Force in 2003 and after completing her training in security forces, volunteered for her current position in the security forces.  If the description on the photo had been true then Bobseine would have been 13 when she joined the Air Force.   The minimum recruitment age is 17.

The Air Force named Bobseine  “Outstanding Airman of the Year” along with 11 other non-commissioned officers in 2006.   Bobseine’s biography says that she served in Iraq, not in Afghanistan where our men and women in service are combating the Taliban.  Click for biography.

Bobseine was deployed in Iraq for 187 days of high-risk operations.  Her bio says, “Airman Bobseine discovered an improvised explosive device at an Iraqi polling center and quickly evacuated and secured the area for explosive ordnance disposal teams. While at Kirkuk AB, she was selectively chosen for off-base operations and conducted more than 100 combat patrols covering 63 square miles. She executed 12 traffic control points, providing critical weapons trafficking deterrent. Her patrol discovered a large munitions cache and provided security for EOD demolition.”

A separate biography from the program of the Air Combat Command’s Outstanding Airmen and First Sergeant of the Year Awards Banquet said that Bobseine was home schooled and was already a marksman prior to joining the Air Force.   In 2000,she participated in a New York State High-Power Rifle competition which earned her the title of Junior Trap Champion.  Click for program in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

The original untouched courtesy photo of Senior Airman Polly-Jan Bobseine behind an M-24 sniper rifle was taken during weapons training as seen on a U.S. Air Force web site. The M-24 Sniper rifle has a maximum efficiency rating of 800 meters, meaning it can hit a target at 875 yards.  Click for photo

There is no mention of cheerleader in either of Bobseine’s official Bios.

updated 05/21/09

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

A Long Distance Engagement
This nineteen-year-old ex-cheerleader (now an Air Force Security Forces Sniper) was watching a road that led to a NATO military base when she observed a man digging by the road. She engaged the target (i.e., she shot him). Turned out he was a bomb maker for the Taliban and he was burying an IED that was to be detonated when a US patrol walked by 30 minutes later. It would have certainly killed and wounded several soldiers.

The interesting fact of this story is the shot was measured at 725 yards. She shot him as he was bent over burying the bomb. The shot went through his butt and into the bomb which detonated; he was blown to pieces. The Air Force made a motivational poster of her:

(Folks, that’s a shot 25 yards longer than seven football fields!)

And the last thing that came out of his mouth…was…his ass!