Hathcock in November 1996
|Born||May 20, 1942|
Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.
|Died||February 23, 1999 (aged 56)|
Virginia Beach, Virginia, U.S.
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||United States Marine Corps|
|Years of service||1959-1979|
|Unit||1st Marine Division|
|Awards|| Silver Star|
Navy Commendation Medal
|Spouse(s)||Josephine (Jo) (nee Broughton) Winstead|
|Relations||Carlos Norman Hathcock III (son)|
Carlos Norman Hathcock II (May 20, 1942 – February 22, 1999) was a United States Marine Corps (USMC) sniper with a service record of 93 confirmed kills. Hathcock's record and the extraordinary details of the missions he undertook made him a legend in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was honored by having a rifle named after him: a variant of the M21 dubbed the Springfield Armory M25 White Feather, for the nickname "White Feather" given to Hathcock by the North Vietnamese People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN).
Hathcock was born in Little Rock, Arkansas on May 20, 1942. He grew up in Wynne, Arkansas, living with his grandmother after his parents separated for the first 12 years of his life. While visiting relatives in Mississippi, he took to shooting and hunting at an early age, partly out of necessity to help feed his poor family. He would go into the woods with his dog and pretend to be a soldier and hunt imaginary Japanese with the old Mauser his father brought back from World War II. He hunted at that early age with a .22-caliber J. C. Higgins single-shot rifle. Hathcock dreamed of being a Marine throughout his childhood, and so on May 20, 1959, at the age of 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. Hathcock married Jo (nee Broughton) Winstead on the date of the Marine Corps birthday, November 10, 1962. Jo gave birth to a son, whom they named Carlos Norman Hathcock III.
Before deploying to South Vietnam, Hathcock had won shooting championships, including matches at Camp Perry and the Wimbledon Cup. In 1966, Hathcock started his deployment in the Vietnam War as a military policeman and later became a sniper after Captain Edward James Land pushed the Marines into raising snipers in every platoon. Land later recruited Marines who had set their own records in sharpshooting; he quickly found Hathcock, who had won the Wimbledon Cup, the most prestigious prize for long-range shooting, at Camp Perry in 1965.
During the Vietnam War, Hathcock had 93 confirmed kills of PAVN and Viet Cong personnel. In the Vietnam War, kills had to be confirmed by an acting third party, who had to be an officer, beside the sniper's spotter. Snipers often did not have an acting third party present, making confirmation difficult, especially if the target was behind enemy lines, as was usually the case.
Hathcock estimated that he had killed between 300 and 400 enemy personnel during his time in the Vietnam War.
The PAVN placed a bounty of US$30,000 on Hathcock's life for killing so many of their men. Rewards put on U.S. snipers by the PAVN typically ranged from $8 to $2,000. Hathcock held the record for highest bounty and killed every known Vietnamese marksman who sought him to collect it. The Viet Cong and PAVN called Hathcock Lông Tr?ng, translated as "White Feather Sniper", because of the white feather he kept in a band on his bush hat. After a platoon of Vietnamese snipers was sent to hunt down "White Feather", many Marines in the same area donned white feathers to deceive the enemy. These Marines were aware of the impact Hathcock's death would have and took it upon themselves to make themselves targets in order to confuse the counter-snipers.
One of Hathcock's most famous accomplishments was shooting an enemy sniper through the enemy's own rifle scope, hitting him in the eye and killing him. Hathcock and John Roland Burke, his spotter, were stalking the enemy sniper in the jungle near Hill 55, the firebase from which Hathcock was operating, southwest of Da Nang. The sniper, known only as the "Cobra," had already killed several Marines and was believed to have been sent specifically to kill Hathcock. When Hathcock saw a glint (light reflecting off the enemy sniper's scope) in the bushes, he fired at it, shooting through the scope and killing the sniper. Hathcock took possession of the dead sniper's rifle, hoping to bring it home as a "trophy", but after he turned it in and tagged it, it was stolen from the armory.
Hathcock only once removed the white feather from his bush hat while deployed in Vietnam. During a volunteer mission days before the end of his first deployment, he crawled over 1,500 yards of field to shoot a PAVN General.[who?] He was not informed of the details of the mission until he accepted it.[failed verification] This effort took four days and three nights, without sleep, of constant inch-by-inch crawling. Hathcock said he was almost stepped on as he lay camouflaged with grass and vegetation in a meadow shortly after sunset. At one point he was nearly bitten by a bamboo viper, but had the presence of mind to avoid moving and giving up his position. As the General exited his encampment, Hathcock fired a single shot that struck the General in the chest, killing him.[self-published source]
After the arduous mission of killing the PAVN General, Hathcock returned to the United States in 1967. He missed the Marine Corps, however, and returned to Vietnam in 1969, where he took command of a platoon of snipers.
On September 16, 1969, Hathcock's career as a sniper came to a sudden end along Highway 1, north of LZ Baldy, when the LVT-5 he was riding on struck an anti-tank mine. Hathcock pulled seven Marines from the flame-engulfed vehicle, suffering severe burns (some third-degree) to his face, arms and legs, before someone pulled him away and got him in water because he did not realize he was burnt that badly. While recovering, Hathcock received the Purple Heart. Nearly 30 years later, he received a Silver Star for this action. Hathcock and the seven marines he pulled from the vehicle were evacuated by helicopter to hospital ship USS Repose, then to a naval hospital in Tokyo, and ultimately to the burn center at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.
After returning to active duty, Hathcock helped establish the Marine Corps Scout Sniper School at the Marine base in Quantico, Virginia. Due to his extreme injuries suffered in Vietnam, he was in nearly constant pain, but he continued to dedicate himself to teaching snipers. In 1975, Hathcock's health began to deteriorate, and he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He stayed in the Marine Corps, but his health continued to decline. And, just 55 days short of the 20 years that would have made him eligible for regular retirement pay, he received a permanent disability separation. Being medically discharged, he received 100 percent disability pay. He would have received only 50 percent of his final pay grade had he retired after 20 years. He fell into a state of depression when he was forced out of the Marines because he felt as if the service had kicked him out. During this depression, his wife Jo nearly left him but decided to stay. Hathcock eventually picked up the hobby of shark fishing, which helped him to overcome his depression.
Hathcock once said that he survived in his work because of an ability to "get in the bubble", to put himself into a state of "utter, complete, absolute concentration", first with his equipment, then his environment, in which every breeze and every leaf meant something, and finally on his quarry. After the war, a friend showed Hathcock a passage written by Ernest Hemingway: "Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and like it, never really care for anything else thereafter." He copied Hemingway's words on a piece of paper. "He got that right," Hathcock said. "It was the hunt, not the killing." Hathcock said in a book written about his career as a sniper: "I like shooting, and I love hunting. But I never did enjoy killing anybody. It's my job. If I don't get those bastards, then they're gonna kill a lot of these kids dressed up like Marines. That's the way I look at it."
Hathcock's son, Carlos Hathcock III, later enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps; he retired from the Marine Corps as a Gunnery Sergeant after following in his father's footsteps as a shooter and became a member of the Board of Governors of the Marine Corps Distinguished Shooters Association.
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Staff Sergeant Carlos N. Hathcock, II (MCSN: 1873109), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Sniper, Seventh Marines, FIRST Marine Division, in connection with military operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam on 16 September 1969. Staff Sergeant Hathcock was riding on an Assault Amphibious Vehicle which ran over and detonated an enemy anti-tank mine, disabling the vehicle which was immediately engulfed in flames. He and other Marines who were riding on top of the vehicle were sprayed with flaming gasoline caused by the explosion. Although suffering from severe burns to his face, trunk, and arms and legs, Staff Sergeant Hathcock assisted the injured Marines in exiting the burning vehicle and moving to a place of relative safety. With complete disregard for his own safety and while suffering excruciating pain from his burns, he bravely ran back through the flames and exploding ammunition to ensure that no Marines had been left behind in the burning vehicle. His heroic actions were instrumental in saving the lives of several Marines. By his courage, aggressive leadership, and total devotion to duty in the face of extreme personal danger, Staff Sergeant Hathcock reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Hathcock remains a legend in the U.S. Marine Corps. The Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock Award is presented annually by the National Defense Industrial Association "to recognize an individual who ... has made significant contributions in operational employment and tactics of small arms weapons systems which have impacted the readiness and capabilities of the U.S. military or law enforcement." The Marine Corps League (MCL) sponsors an annual program with 12 award categories, which includes the Gunnery Sergeant Carlos N. Hathcock II Award presented "to an enlisted Marine who has made an outstanding contribution to the improvement of marksmanship training." A sniper range named for Hathcock is at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
In 1967, Hathcock set the record for the longest sniper kill. He used an M2 .50 Cal Browning machine gun mounted with a telescopic sight at a range of 2,500 yd (2,286 m), killing a Vietcong guerrilla. In 2002, this record was broken by Canadian snipers (Rob Furlong and Arron Perry) from the third battalion of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry during the War in Afghanistan. Hathcock was one of several individuals to utilize the M2 Browning machine gun in the sniping role. This success led to the adoption of the .50 BMG cartridge as a viable sniper round. Sniper rifles have since been designed around and chambered in this caliber since the 1970s.
Springfield Armory designed a highly accurized version of their M1A Supermatch rifle with a McMillan Stock and match grade barrel and dubbed it the "M-25 White Feather". The rifle had a likeness of Hathcock's signature and his "white feather logo" marked on the receiver.
Turner Saddlery similarly honored Hathcock by producing a line of leather rifle slings based on his design. The slings are embossed with Hathcock's signature.
Hathcock is the subject of a number of books including:
Hathcock generally used the standard sniper rifle: the Winchester Model 70 .30-06 caliber rifle with the standard 8-power Unertl scope. On some occasions, however, he used a different weapon: the M2 Browning machine gun, on which he mounted an 8X Unertl scope, using a bracket of his own design. Hathcock made a number of kills with this weapon in excess of 1,000 yards, including his record for the longest confirmed kill at 2,500 yards (since surpassed). Hathcock carried a Colt M1911A1 pistol as a sidearm.
Hathcock's career as a sniper has been used as a basis for a variety of fictional snipers, from the "shooting through the scope incident" to the number of kills he made.
Hathcock was called Long Trang by the NVA:"White Feather"
Founded in 1977, the school's first staff NCOIC was the famed sniper, Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock II, who was credited with 93 confirmed kills in Vietnam.
Hathcock had taken to wearing a small white feather in his boonie hat. It was just stuck in the brim ...the Viet Cong came to know the sniper as Long Tr'ang, "the White Feather.
Carlos Hathcock (1942-99) Nicknamed the 'White Feather' for the feather he wore in his hatband, Carlos Hathcock is perhaps the most influential sniper of all time.
The Vietcong and the soldiers of the NVA called him Long Tr'ang--the "White Feather"--for the plume he stuck in his hat band.
Upon reaching the target area he discovered that his shot had gone through the scope of the sniper's rifle
Hathcock's bullet had gone through the cobra sniper's scope and entered his eye
Unfortunately for the guy behind the scope, Hathcock's shot was clean and true--perfectly passing through the glass scope
Both lenses of the enemy's sniper scope, front and back, were shattered. It was obvious what happened. My bullet smashed through his scope and into his right eye.
Standing next to Gunnery Sgt. Hathcock is his son, Staff Sgt. Carlos Hathcock, Jr.
The Hathcock Award is named in honor of Gunnery Sergeant Carlos N. Hathcock, II, USMC, a career Marine who dedicated his life to the service of this country in both the military and law enforcement communities ...'The Gunny' not only distinguished himself in combat as a scout-sniper, but also as a competitive marksman and trainer. In his capacity as a trainer, he not only significantly impacted the current United States Marine Corps Scout-Sniper Program, but also influenced the sniper programs of the other military services and similar law enforcement programs nationwide.
The Hathcock Award is presented to an enlisted Marine who has made an outstanding contribution to marksmanship and marksmanship training during the previous twelve months.[permanent dead link]
that's definitive, this bullet made it all the way through one of these scopes and in far enough to be a kill, that's a plausible myth