Carlos Norman Hathcock II is a name that probably won’t ring any bells but when he joined the United States Marine Corps in 1959 at the age of 17, he quickly became known at Camp Pendleton has a great marksman.
He went on to win multiple shooting championships including the Wimbledon Cup before being deployed to Vietnam. Hathcock had 93 confirmed kills during the Vietnam war but the vast majority of his kills were just never confirmed due to a stipulation where a third party, an officer, had to confirm the shot because the sniper’s word and the word of his spotter wasn’t necessarily enough. But we believe his estimate of between 300 to 400. He’s just that good.
He was so good that the North Vietnamese Army placed a bounty on his head. $30,000 USD were put on the line for anybody that could take him out. The Viet Cong gave him a nickname—Du kích Lông Trắng. In English, it means “White Feather Sniper.” He wore a kept a white feather in the band of his hat.
After hearing of the bounty, many of his fellow marines donned white feathers to through the enemy off his trail.
Probably his most famous accomplishment, one of which you might recognize from movies, was when he shot an enemy sniper straight through the enemy’s own scope, hitting him in the eye and killing him instantly. The moment would be recreated in films like Saving Private Ryan and the aptly named Sniper starring Tom Berenger.
Hathcock stated in a book about his career, “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.”