The Deadliest US Soldier on record with 2.746 kills
Via New York Post
With 2,746 confirmed kills, Sgt. 1st Class Dillard Johnson is the deadliest American soldier on record — and maybe the most humble.
As a commander of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle nicknamed “Carnivore,” Johnson, 48, helped lead the ground assault during Operation Iraqi Freedom, overwhelming the enemy with a relentless show of military might that left a trail of dead in his wake.
Johnson was obliged to report confirmed kills to his superiors, cataloging the dead in a green journal that revealed the astonishing tally — which only began to come light as he and co-writer James Tarr were researching his exploits for his memoir, also titled “Carnivore.”
There may have been a deadlier soldier in an earlier war, but since detailed records have been kept, Johnson tops the list.
It’s a mantle he is reluctant to embrace.
“It’s sort of sad to say, but they’re just another pencil mark,” Johnson told The Post, referring to his journal notations. “I didn’t think of the numbers . . . That’s not a boast I would make.”
Johnson, 48, grew up in Island, Ky., hanging out in strip mines and hunting deer with his daddy’s gun. His first kill came at the tender age of 13, when he nailed a six-point buck with a .22-caliber rifle.
In high school, he joined the ROTC, and in 1986, he joined the Army, fulfilling a childhood dream spawned from the pages of comic books.
“When I was growing up, everyone wanted to be an astronaut, a cowboy, or a firefighter. I wanted to be Sgt. Rock,” he said, referring to DC Comics’ gritty WWII hero.
In Iraq, he joined Charlie Troop, 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry, going on to hunt bigger game — wiping out a truckload of Iraqis with six high-explosive rounds in March 2003 at the battle of As Samawah, his first KIAs.
He counted the dead by tallying rifles — and human heads — among the mangled or charred wreckage left behind by the Carnivore.
In his second tour, in 2005, he took up sniping, logging 121 kills, his longest from 821 yards, a skill that was honed hunting in Kentucky. His total is second only to the late Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL who had 160 kills.
“I had already had the talent of being able to shoot due to the fact that I grew up with a rifle that wasn’t zeroed to me,” he said, recalling his early use of a gun calibrated for his father.
After two tours in the second Iraqi war, he took home 37 medals, including a Silver Star and four Purple Hearts. He gives all the credit to his troop — call sign “Crazy Horse” — whose lineage dates back to Gen. George Custer. “There’s not another brotherhood like it,” he said.
His past never haunts him.
“I killed when I needed to . . . I was brutal when I needed to be, but I was compassionate when I needed to be,” he said. “In my mind, I never killed anyone who wasn’t trying to kill me or trying to do harm.”
He has a bullet permanently lodged in his leg, and the battlefield left him with a new enemy to fight — Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He believes he developed the cancer from inhaling particles from armor-piercing depleted uranium (DU) shells — which turn radioactive when superheated upon firing — but he has no regrets.
“I’m not upset that the DU gave me cancer. If I hadn’t had the DU rounds, there were vehicles that I wouldn’t have been able to destroy that would have killed me,” he said.
The cancer was in remission but returned in January. He will undergo chemotherapy at the end of the summer.
These days, Johnson lives in Daytona Beach, Fla., is married with four kids and works as a consultant for an ammunition company. He doesn’t display his accolades or wartime souvenirs — not even the Iraq flag he took off Saddam Hussein’s limousine.
And he’s given up hunting, preferring to surf with his 13-year-old son.
In his memoir, which goes on sale Tuesday, he quotes Hemingway: “Those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter.”