Wilson is the designated marksman in a company of Marines based in downtown Ramadi, watching over what Marines call the most dangerous neighborhood in the most dangerous city in the world.
During a large-scale attack on Easter Sunday, Wilson says, he spotted six gunmen on a rooftop about 400 yards away. In about 8 seconds he squeezed off five rounds — hitting five gunmen in the head. The sixth man dived off a 3-story building just as Wilson got him in his sights, and counts as a probable death.
"You could tell he didn't know where it was coming from. He just wanted to get away," Wilson said. Later that day, he said, he killed another insurgent.
Wilson says his skill helps save American troops and Iraqi civilians.
"It doesn't bother me. Obviously, me being a devout Catholic, it's a conflict of interest. Then again, God supported David when he killed Goliath," Wilson said. "I believe God supports what we do and I've never killed anyone who wasn't carrying a weapon."
Guns have long been part of Wilson's life. His father was a sniper in the Navy SEALS. He remembers first firing a sniper rifle at age 6. By the time he enlisted he had already fired a .50-caliber machine gun.
"My father owned a weapons dealership, so I've been around exotic firearms all my life," said Wilson, who remembers practicing on pine cones and cans. "My dad would help me hold (an M-16), with the butt on his shoulder, and walk me through the steps of shooting."
Though Wilson firmly supports the war, he used to wonder how his actions would be received back home.
"At first you definitely double-guess telling your wife, mom, and your friends that you've killed 20 people," Wilson said. "But over time you realize that if they support you ... maybe it'll make them feel that much safer at home."
He acknowledges that brutal acts of war linger in the mind.
"Some people, before they're about to kill someone, they think that — 'Hey, I'm about to kill someone.' That thought doesn't occur to me. It may sound cold, but they're just a target. Afterward, it's real. You think, 'Hey, I just killed someone,'" says Wilson.
Insurgents "have killed good Marines I've served with. That's how I sleep at night," he says. "Though I've killed over 20 people, how many lives would those 20 people have taken?""
There's not much more to say, but thats why our guys are fighting in Iraq. To kill them there, so they don't kill us over here.