US Marine Corps Snipers were known for their lethal accuracy during the Vietnam war. One such sniper was Carlos Norman Hathcock II who had an astounding kill record of 93. But it wasn’t his numerical achievement that made him a legend. In fact, it was one particular kill and the manner in which he accomplished it that opened the flood gates of fame for him.
He made his way to the hall of fame through never ending hard work and unprecedented dedication to long range shooting. His successes earned him a role as a major developer of the US Marine Corps Sniper training school and he even had a variant of the M21 named after him. It was called the Springfield Armory M25 ‘White Feather’, which was a name given to him by his enemies, the NVA.
Born on May 20, 1942 in Little Rock, Arkansas, Hathcock took to the sport of shooting at a very young age. He lived in a rural area with his grandmother as his parents had separated. During trips to Mississippi, he started developing an interest in hunting and long range shooting. At that time the victory over the Japanese was still fresh so he would go into the woods with his dog and pretend to be a soldier hunting for the Japanese. His father fought in the war and brought him a Mauser, which was what Hathcock used to hunt.
Growing up, he dreamed of getting into the US Marine Corps and by the time he was 17 he was very firm on his decision. His love for the Marines was so profound that he got married on the same date as the one when Marine Corps were first found, November 10th 1962. His wife’s name was Jo Winstead who gave birth to a son. They named him Carlos Norman Hathcock III.
When the Vietnam War broke out, it was very obvious that the Marines would be the first ones to be sent over. But Hathcock had earned a reputation of being a sniper way before he was sent to Vietnam. He had taken part in several shooting games and bagged many championships. In 1966, Hathcock was sent off to Vietnam where he was assigned the duty of a military policemen. Later on, he was selected as a sniper for his skills when Captain Edward James Land ordered all platoons to have their own snipers. Later on, the significance of snipers became clear and Captain Edwards prioritized Marines who had excellent records in sharpshooting. Hathcock was one of the top names who had won the Wimbledon Cup at Camp Perry for long range shooting in 1965.
The war went on and Hathcock targeting every Vietcong or NVA personnel he could. He eventually bagged 93 confirmed kills by the time the war ended, even though Hathcock later claimed to have taken 300 – 400 enemy soldiers down. During the Vietnam War, for a kill to be conformed, there had to be a third party other than the sniper or the spotter. This wasn’t possible in all cases during the course of a battle so the number was much smaller than what Hathcock stated.