Real-life John Wick single-handedly took down 26 terrorists – and survived

A former US Army Green Beret took down 26 Iraqi terrorists in a bloody two-hour running gun battle like a scene straight out of John Wick.

Veteran special forces operative Tony Cowden served over eight years and had 28 deployments in Afghanistan, Iraq and other Central Asian and African countries.

But he was always trained to fight as part of a unit. In summer 2011, he had to fight the fight of his life alone.

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Tony was ambushed as he was driving through Mosul, Northern Iraq in an unmarked civilian vehicle with a military buddy named Ben.

They were trying to keep a low profile, he told podcaster Shawn Ryan, but were spotted by a local insurgent.

"We made a U-turn and this dude comes running out with an RPG," he explained.

“I’m already on the gas I was driving and um probably 55, 65 miles an hour…”

But the getaway wasn’t quite fast enough and the rocket-propelled grenade slammed into the car’s engine.

He recalled: “That made the steering not work and we went into one of those big metal light poles.”

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Tony was dazed by the impact, but Ben shook him and told him to get out of the car. He did so, but then realised his friend wasn’t following him.

He continued: “I could see his legs still in the car his door was open so I ran around there and… he was he was done.

"The round that went through him hit me in the back. The only reason I know it was that round is because I had blood on my back and I had no other time in this fight that I could have gotten blood on my back.”

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Tony dragged his mortally wounded pal across a motorway, and took cover in a shop.

He had a pistol, an assault rifle, and a SAW [light machine gun]. Massively outnumbered, he decided to try to even the odds with a long burst from the formidable SAW.

“I pulled up the SAW and went on a 200 round burst… I used almost an entire drum with three bursts … and that was very helpful because now these dudes have got a couple of their buddies that ain't fighting any more,” Tony said.

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But he had some problems too. He had left his phone in the car and his radio had stopped a bullet, so he had no way of calling for backup.

Making his way into a shop, he rolled his mate’s body up in a carpet and stashed it in a stairwell, before planting a booby-trap in the doorway and making for the roof.

But he soon started taking fire there too, and with no available cover he decided to jump to lower roof next door.

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That was Tony’s next problem. “That part of the roof didn't exist so I went running and jumped off thinking I was going to land on it and missed, falling all the way to the dirt," he explained.

"Two stories. God, that hurt!”

There he ran into two more of his pursuers. The first one didn’t see him, but then “his buddy runs up behind him, and keeps keeps going past a little alleyway and I hear him hitting the brakes".

Tony went on: “He saw me out of peripheral vision and he came back and put his head around the corner so I dumped him his buddy sees it happening and I start to move to the corner and we almost run into each other.”

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He shot that man too. One by one, he was whittling down the terrorists’ numbers, but Tony was still cornered.

With no way of calling for help, and dwindling supplies of ammo, he was planning to fight his way down to the river and swim to safety.

“I was managing my ammo,” he recalled. “I was using my pistol inside and switching a rifle outside.

“I threw two PDMs [booby traps] both of them went off I and I just laughed. I thought ‘um like y'all are gonna kill me today but I ain't going alone…’

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He had nine bullets left for his pistol when the first search helicopter flew overhead.

Soon, more reinforcements arrived and the remaining attackers made themselves scarce.

The rescuers identified the bodies of 26 terrorists that had died in the gunfight with Tony.

“It was nuts,” he said. "That day made me think I was immortal”.

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