|Born||May 20, 1942|
Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.
|Died||February 22, 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
Josephine (née Broughton) Winstead
|Children||Carlos Norman Hathcock III|
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).
Early life and education
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 soldiers 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 (née 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 a third party, who had to be an officer, beside the sniper's spotter. Snipers often did not have a third party present, making confirmation difficult, especially if the target was behind enemy lines, as was usually the case. Hathcock himself estimated that he had killed between 300 and 400 enemy personnel during the Vietnam War.
Confrontations with North Vietnamese snipers
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 try to collect it. The Viet Cong and PAVN called Hathcock Lông Trắng, translated as "White Feather", 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 and with 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]
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 placed him in water because he was unaware of how badly he had been burnt. 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 the Vietnam War
After returning to active duty, Hathcock helped establish the Marine Corps Scout Sniper School at the Marine base in Quantico, Virginia. Due to the extreme injuries he suffered in Vietnam, he was in nearly constant pain, but 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. 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.
Later life and death
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.
Awards and decorations
Hathcock's awards include:
|1st row||Silver Star|
|2nd row||Purple Heart||Navy Commendation Medal||Navy Achievement Medal |
with "V" device
|3rd row||Combat Action Ribbon||Navy and Marine Corps Presidential Unit Citation
with 1 Service star
|Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal |
with 1 Silver star (5 awards)
|4th row||National Defense Service Medal||Vietnam Service Medal
with 4 Campaign stars
|Vietnam Gallantry Cross |
with Gold star
|5th row||Vietnam Gallantry Cross
with palm and frame
|Vietnam Civil Actions Medal
with palm and frame
|Vietnam Campaign Medal |
with 1960- device
|Badges||Marine Corps Rifle Expert Marksmanship Badge||Marine Corps Pistol Expert Marksmanship Badge|
Silver Star citation
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. 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. On March 9, 2007, the rifle and pistol complex at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar was officially renamed the Carlos Hathcock Range Complex.
Hathcock is the subject of a number of books including:
- Henderson, Charles W. (1986). Marine Sniper: 93 Confirmed Kills. Stein and Day. ISBN 0-8128-3055-5.
- Sasser, Charles; Roberts, Craig (1990). One Shot, One Kill. Pocket Books. ISBN 978-0-671-68219-4.
- Chandler, Roy F. (1997). White Feather: Carlos Hathcock USMC scout sniper: an authorized biographical memoir. Iron Brigade Armory Publishing. ISBN 978-1-885633-09-5.
- Henderson, Charles W. (2003). Silent Warrior. Berkley Books. ISBN 978-0-425-18864-4.
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 made by SW's of the SeaBees. 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.
In popular culture
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.
- The H2 documentary, Sniper: Inside the Crosshairs (March 10, 2015), depicted a sniper team that successfully reenacted the "through the scope" shot.
- The 1993 Film Sniper, starring Tom Berenger & Billy Zane, was loosely based on Hathcock's first Vietnam tour. Scenes include the "through the scope" shot, as well as the assassination of the General.
- The Discovery Channel series MythBusters tested the question of shooting another sniper through their riflescope. Episode 67, entitled "Firearms Folklore" (November 29, 2006) featured the test: "Can a bullet travel through a sniper's scope and kill him?". Using a police industry standard SWAT sniper rifle and standard police match ammunition, the MythBusters fired several shots at a scoped rifle mounted on a ballistics gel dummy. The bullet was unable to hit the dummy: it was either stopped or deflected by the multiple layers of lenses in the scope, leaving the dummy relatively unharmed. Without any clear evidence that a bullet can penetrate a sniper scope, the MythBusters decided to label the myth as "busted". But, due to much debate by viewers, it was revisited in episode 75. Using a period-accurate scope (this story originates from reports of Carlos Hathcock in the Vietnam War, and the scope used by Hathcock's opponent did not have the numerous internal optical elements of the scopes tested), it was found to be plausible.
- Hathcock was mentioned in the NCIS episode "One Shot, One Kill", when a white feather was found at two crime scenes where the victims were shot and killed by a sniper. The series protagonist, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, a former Marine scout sniper, realized the significance of the feather as the perpetrator's "calling card", referencing Hathcock's nickname during the Vietnam War ("White Feather Sniper"). He credits Hathcock with "39 confirmed kills", apparently having transposed the digits of Hathcock's actual 93 confirmed kills.
- Hathcock's duel with Cobra was mentioned in the History Channel Sniper - Inside The Crosshairs in 2016. As in Mythbusters, this show also tested the question of whether shooting a sniper through his scope was possible and came to the conclusion that it was highly plausible after four shots by a modern Marine sniper.
- Jack Coughlin, a retired Marine sniper with over 60 confirmed kills whose service includes Iraq and Somalia
- Eric R. England, holds the second highest number of confirmed kills (98) for any United States Marine Corps sniper
- Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL who holds the current record for the most confirmed kills in American military history, with 160 kills in the Iraq War, acknowledges Hathcock on page 200 of his book American Sniper
- List of historically notable United States Marines
- Longest recorded sniper kills
- Chuck Mawhinney, who holds the highest number of confirmed kills (103) for any United States Marine Corps sniper in history
- Adelbert Waldron, who held the record for the most confirmed kills in American military history, with 109 kills in Vietnam
- Edward James Land - established first Marine Corps Scout Sniper school at Quantico, VA
- Richard O. Culver Jr. - worked with Land in establishing the first Marine Corps Scout Sniper School; Hathcock was Culver's Senior NCO at the school.
- van Zwoll, Wayne (December 6, 2013). Mastering the Art of Long-Range Shooting. Iola, Wisconsin: F+W Media. p. 214. ISBN 978-1-4402-3485-9.
Hathcock was called Long Trang by the NVA:"White Feather"
- Henderson 2001, p. 29
- NRA.org/NRA National Shooting Program/ NRA National Trophies/Wimbledon Cup
- Kennedy, Harold (March 2003). "Marine Corps Sets Sights on More Precise Shooting". National Defense Magazine. Archived from the original on January 30, 2007. Retrieved March 30, 2007.
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.
- Flores, John. "The Story of Legendary Sniper Carlos Hathcock". Retrieved September 19, 2013.
- "Sniper Rifles". GlobalSecurity. Retrieved March 24, 2008.
- Dockery 2007, p. 148 "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'."
- Dougherty, Martin J. (2012). Sniper: SAS and Elite Forces Guide: Sniping skills from the world's elite forces. Amber Books Ltd. p. 40. ISBN 978-1-909160-38-5.
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.
- Cawthorne, Nigel (December 2011). "The White Feather". Confirmed Kill: Heroic Sniper Stories from the Jungles of Vietnam to the Mountains of Afghanistan. Ulysses Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-61243-023-2.
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.
- Chandler 1997
- Dougherty, Martin J. (2012). Sniper: SAS and Elite Forces Guide: Sniping skills from the world's elite forces. Amber Books Ltd. p. 40. ISBN 978-1-909160-38-5.
Upon reaching the target area he discovered that his shot had gone through the scope of the sniper's rifle
- Sasser, Charles W.; Roberts, Craig (July 1, 2004). Crosshairs on the Kill Zone: American Combat Snipers, Vietnam through Operation Iraqi Freedom. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 76. ISBN 978-1-4165-0362-0.
Hathcock's bullet had gone through the cobra sniper's scope and entered his eye
- Riegert, Keith; Kaplan, Samuel (June 25, 2013). The MANual: Trivia. Testosterone. Tales of Badassery. Raw Meat. Fine Whiskey. Cold Truth. Ulysses Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-61243-183-3.
Unfortunately for the guy behind the scope, Hathcock's shot was clean and true—perfectly passing through the glass scope
- Sasser & Roberts 1990, p. 1 "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."
- Henderson 2003, p. 167
- Roberts & Sasser 2004, p. 72
- Henderson 2003, p. 35
- "Carlos Hathcock: Famous Marine Corps Sniper". military.com. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
- Sasser & Roberts 1990, p. 208
- Dockery 2007, pp. 150–153
- Brookesmith, Peter (2007). Sniper, 2nd Edition: Training, Techniques and Weapons. St. Martin's Press. pp. 40–41. ISBN 978-0-312-36290-4. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
- Dockery 2007, p. 156.
- Martin, Iain C. (2007). The Greatest U. S. Marine Corps Stories Ever Told: Unforgettable Stories of Courage, Honor, and Sacrifice. Globe Pequot Press. pp. 255–267. ISBN 978-1-59921-017-9. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
- Childress, Clyde O. (2011). Forks: The Life of One Marine. Xlibris Corporation. p. 116. ISBN 978-1-4653-3711-5. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
- Marine Corps Social Media (April 2, 2013). "Ultimate Marine (Hathcock vs Mawhinney)". MarinesBlog, The Official Blog of the United States Marine Corps. United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on October 4, 2015. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
- Military Times staff. Doug Sterner (ed.). "Valor Awards for Carlos N. Hathcock, II". The Hall of Valor. Military Times. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
- Spencer, Jim (September 7, 1986). "A Quiet Man Uniquely Qualified To Stalk And Kill". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on February 23, 2015. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
- Henderson 2001, p. 306
- Mann 2011, p. 127
- Lantz, Gary. "White Feather". America's 1st Freedom. National Rifle Association. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved April 17, 2007.
- Senich 1996, p. 372
- Office of the Secretary of Defense (1996). "Still Asset Details for DMSD9802324". Archived from the original on January 29, 2009. Retrieved January 1, 2009.
Standing next to Gunnery Sgt. Hathcock is his son, Staff Sgt. Carlos Hathcock, Jr.
- Marine Corps Distinguished Shooters Association (2008). "Marine Corps Distinguished Shooters Association Board of Governors" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 25, 2009. Retrieved January 1, 2009.
- Henderson 2003, p. 285
- "Hathcock, Carlos, II, GySgt". marines.togetherweserved.com. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
- "The Hathcock Award". National Defense Industrial Association. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
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.
- "2015 Marine Corps League Enlisted Awards Announcement". Official U.S. Marine Corps Website. July 21, 2015. Archived from the original on September 28, 2015. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
- "MCL Awards". Marine Corps League. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
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]
- Henderson 2003, p. 181
- Morelli, David. "Review: Springfield Armory's M-25 Whitefeather". Tactical Gear Magazine. Gun Digest. Archived from the original on March 22, 2010. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
- Greer, G.R. (2008). "Gear Review". Soldier of Fortune. Omega. 33 (9): 64.
- Papastrat, George J. "Range complex named after famous Vietnam sniper". Marine Corps News. United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on October 17, 2007. Retrieved March 24, 2008.
- Sasser (1990) p. 82
- Jamie Hyneman; Adam Savage (November 29, 2006). "MythBusters 2006 Episode Guide". MythBusters. Season 2006. Episode 67. San Francisco: Beyond Television Productions. Discovery Channel. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
- Jamie Hyneman; Adam Savage (March 21, 2007). "MythBusters 2007 Episode Guide". MythBusters. Season 2007. Episode 75. San Francisco: Beyond Television Productions. Discovery Channel. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
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
- Peter Ellis, Gil Grant (February 10, 2004). "One Shot, One Kill". NCIS. 60:00 minutes in. CBS.
- "Sniper - Inside The Crosshairs". Retrieved June 11, 2016.
Sources and further reading
- Chandler, Roy F. (1997). White feather: Carlos Hathcock USMC scout sniper: an authorized biographical memoir (1997 ed.). Iron Brigade Armory Publishing. ISBN 978-1-885633-09-5.
- Dockery, Kevin (2007). Stalkers and Shooters: A History of Snipers. Penguin. pp. 150–153. ISBN 978-0-425-21542-5.
- Dougan, Andy (2006). Through the Crosshairs: A History of Snipers (2006 ed.). Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-7867-1773-6.
- Henderson, Charles (2001). Marine Sniper: 93 Confirmed Kills. Penguin. ISBN 978-0-425-18165-2.
- Henderson, Charles W. (2003). Silent Warrior (2003 ed.). Berkley Books. ISBN 978-0-425-18864-4.
- Mann, Don (2011). Inside SEAL Team Six: My Life and Missions with America's Elite Warriors. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-20429-3.
- Sasser, Charles; Roberts, Craig (1990). One Shot, One Kill (1990 ed.). Pocket Books. ISBN 978-0-671-68219-4.
- Roberts, Craig; Sasser, Charles W. (2004). Crosshairs on the Kill Zone: American Combat Snipers, Vietnam Through Operation Iraqi Freedom. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4165-0362-0.
- Senich, Peter R. (1996). The one-round war: USMC scout-snipers in Vietnam (1996 ed.). Paladin Press. ISBN 978-0-87364-867-7.
- Kyle, Chris; McEwan, Scott; DeFelice, Jim (2012). American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-06-208235-0.