In many conflicts throughout the military history of the United States, snipers have proven themselves time and again to be invaluable assets on the battlefields.

They excel at taking down opposing forces with precision, gathering intelligence, and eliminating enemy officers.

Even in an age where battles are fought using million-dollar laser-guided missiles, stealth fighter jets, and military-grade UAVs, one soldier’s ability to eliminate an imminent threat with a 20-cent bullet remains a highly-prized advantage.

In most battlegrounds, a sniper has specific duties to intimidate and harass the enemies, preventing them from launching an attack in the open and regrouping.

An invisible sniper yields a remarkable impact.   In the old days, snipers were the unsung heroes of many wars.

When the battles ended, the military often failed to properly acknowledge their roles and build a program to pass down the skills to recruits.

The paradigm changed after the Vietnam War. Charles “Chuck” Mawhinney was an American sniper during the conflict.

Until recently, no one knew that he was among the deadliest snipers to have served the USMC.

Chuck Mawhinney

10 /10 An Oregon Hunter

Chuck Mawhinney enlisted in June 1967 and was deployed to Vietnam in April 1968. He spent almost a year and a half in Vietnam before returning home in 1969 to Oregon, where he grew up as an avid hunter.

After leaving the military in 1970, he kept details of his service a well-guarded secret.

Except for a handful of people who served with him in Vietnam, no one knew about his remarkable skills as a sniper. It only took him two decades to share some of the most memorable stories from the days gone by.

9 /10 Lesson To Learn

It is not like Chuck wanted to talk about it either, and he needed some encouragement from a fellow serviceman to begin opening up about his combat abilities.

In 1991, Joseph Ward – a friend and former Marine sniper- released a book that credits Chuck with 101 confirmed kills.

Modern Marine Corps scout snipers are now required to study the history of former snipers and learn valuable skills they could implement during various battle situations.

The lessons will help them become more effective as soldiers and stay alive to tell their own stories.

United States Marine Corps

8 /10 Impressive Number

Having 101 confirmed kills might not sound like an awful lot during combat, but it was the deed of just one person and with documentation for each.

Subsequent research also revealed that Chuck had two more confirmed kills than the book claims, and it was a new record back then.

In addition to the number, what makes the paper much more impressive was that Chuck never consciously tried to surpass anybody’s confirmed kills or tack his name into one of the legends in the Marine Corps. He was being an efficient sniper.

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7 /10 Haunting Memory

Unfortunately, like many soldiers fighting for many months in combat, Chuck was still haunted by unpleasant memories of the experience.

One, in particular, was when he failed to hit an enemy soldier after an armorer had made some adjustments to his rifle. He fired off multiple shots, and none of them hit the target.

He still can’t help thinking about how many people the enemy soldier may have killed later; some could be his friends or Marines. An event of missed opportunity from decades ago still bothers him until today.

Wikimedia Commons

6 /10 Combat Fatigue

Not long afterward, Chuck was diagnosed with combat fatigue and sent home in 1969. He is still alive today, and his rifle is now well-preserved and exhibited in the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

The only sniper with more confirmed kills than Chuck in Vietnam was Adelbert Waldron, an Army sharpshooter with six more credited to his name.

According to Staff Sgt. Joshua Coulter, a Marine Corps Scout Sniper instructor, Mawhinney, and Waldron had unparalleled detail. They went to great lengths to understand their equipment and its effects on their surroundings.

5 /10 Only To Perform His Duty

In neither boastful nor defensive tone, Chuck said he only did what he had been trained to do.

There was no intention to have the highest number of confirmed kills, and he only served the duties assigned to his full potential for as long as he could.

Chuck still maintains that he didn’t do anything special throughout his time in Vietnam, but the numbers suggest otherwise.

By all accounts, except probably his own, Chuck showcased outstanding performance in one of the most deadly and dangerous yet misunderstood military roles.


4 /10 Probable Kills

The book “Dear Mom: A Sniper’s Vietnam” by Joseph Ward flicked the switch to start a deeper look into Chuck’s military record.

Apart from the 103 confirmed kills, Chuck also had 216 probable kills during his 16-month as a Marine sniper in Vietnam.

Every kill categorized as “probable” basically means the kill almost definitely happened. Still, the battlefield circumstances made it difficult or too risky to make the confirmation, such as by searching the body for documents.

He never said a word about any of those for two decades since leaving the military in 1970.


3 /10 16 Enemies, 16 Headshots

Many stories unraveled once Chuck decided to talk more about his combat experience. One of the most memorable was when he encountered 16 enemy troops near a river in the darkness of a night.

The encounter escalated into an intense, albeit brief, engagement that lasted for about 30 seconds. Once Chuck took the first shot, he kept firing as fast as he could and didn’t stop until all 16 enemy soldiers were down.

Every single one of them was a headshot, dead center. Chuck can still remember seeing all the bodies floating down the river.

2 /10 No Anonymity

Chuck didn’t keep his combat experience a secret because he was forced to do so. He decided long ago and stayed true to that for many years.

With the release of the book, anonymity was no longer an option and in a good way for himself and the younger generation of scout snipers.

He came out of the shadows to publicly share his good and bad experience. He was a scared serviceman, and by going public with his stories, Chuck hopes to help other afraid soldiers to stay optimistic about life.


1 /10 A Good Sniper

Chuck is now determined to help revise the public image as a cold-blooded killer.

In his mind, a good sniper saves more lives than one takes, and a sniper must undercut the enemy’s ability to fight and, in the process, prevent more deaths.

Chuck’s confirmed kills happened chiefly from a distance of 300 to 800 years, and at least one kill was from more than 1,000 yards.

Now a retired US Forest Service agent, he has developed a deep voice due to years of smoking, but his manner remains straightforward.

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