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“Liked the Hunt, But Not the Killing” – The Extraordinary Story of Badass Sniper Carlos Hathcock

A legendary figure, Hathcock had 93 confirmed kills, but he says the actual number is around 300 to 400.

  • Carlos Hathcock dreamed of joining the military from a young age. At age 17, he enlisted in the US Marines
  • He demonstrated exemplary sniping skills, known as the deadliest sniper during the Vietnam War
  • He had many notable stories about his kills, but the most popular was the enemy sniper he shot directly through the sniper scope

Being a soldier is never easy. Soldiers have to endure being away from their family and friends to protect and serve their country. Being deployed to a warzone means having to endure unfavorable sleeping conditions and risking injury or even worse, death. Yet it is during these moments when they display unbelievable courage and tenacity. One such example is the legendary American sniper Carlos Hathcock.

Carlos Norman Hathcock II was born on May 20, 1942, in Little Rock, Arkansas. Because his parents divorced when he was still young, he lived with his grandmother. Like any young man, Carlos dreamed of joining the military. His desire to enlist was instilled in him at a young age. By age 17, he fulfilled his dream when he enlisted in the US Marines. Having learned how to shoot and hunt from a tender age, Carlos was already a skilled marksman when he enlisted. By age 23, he already won the prestigious marksmanship championship at Wimbledon Cup. A year after bagging the championship, Carlos packed his bags and was deployed to Vietnam.

Carlos Hathcock won the Wimbledon Cup at age 23

While in Vietnam, Carlos was first assigned to be a military policeman but soon volunteered for active combat, where he demonstrated his exemplary skills. He was then transferred to join the 1st Marine Division Sniper Platoon stationed south of Da Nang.

In the two tours that Carlos served as a sniper for the US Marines, he gained fame as the Vietnam War’s deadliest sniper. Officially, he had 93 confirmed kills; however, by his personal count, Carlos stated that he killed around 300 to 400 enemies.

Carlos Hathcock became known as the Vietnam War’s deadliest sniper

Carlos had many notable stories about his kills, but perhaps the most popular is the story of him killing an enemy sniper 500 yards away by shooting right through the enemy’s sniper scope. He and his spotter, John Roland Burke, were stalking an enemy sniper with the alias “Cobra” in the jungle near Hill 55. Carlos saw a glint in the bushes and fired at it, hitting the enemy directly in the eye and killing him instantly.

Another popular story is how he assassinated Apache, a female Viet Cong platoon leader notorious for ambushing and torturing Marines. Because he killed so many of the enemy personnel, the North Vietnamese People’s Army placed a USD 30,000 bounty on Carlos’ life, the highest bounty ever placed on any US sniper. He was also nicknamed by the North Vietnamese People’s Army as “White Feather” because of his penchant for wearing a white feather on his bush hat during missions.

It was the fateful day of September 19th in 1969 that marked the end of Carlos Hathcock’s illustrious career as a marksman. He was riding an armored fighting vehicle along Highway 1 near Landing Zone Baldy when they hit an anti-tank mine. He rescued seven Marines from the burning vehicle before he was pulled to safety. He was evacuated due to the burn injuries he sustained.

He received the Purple Heart and a Silver Star for his heroic deeds during this event.

After his return from the Vietnam War, he continued working with the Marines, establishing the Marine Corps Scout Sniper School in Quantico, Virginia. However, in 1975, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and his health quickly deteriorated. After 19 years and 10 months of active duty, he was forced to retire.

As a result of his forced retirement, he developed depression so severe that he isolated himself from his family and friends. Eventually, he discovered and picked up the hobby of shark fishing, which helped him deal with and overcome his depression.

On February 22, 1999, at 56 years of age, the legendary sniper Carlos Hathcock passed away due to complications brought about by multiple sclerosis. His remains were laid to rest at Woodlawn Memorial Gardens in Norfolk, Virginia.

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