Carlos Hathcock, Part II: Deployment

  • Caleb Downing

Carlos Hathcock: the man, the myth, the legend. I remember reading about this USMC sniper’s accomplishments back when I was in high school and being thoroughly enamored. His wartime resume likens him to some sort of Rambo/Chuck Norris hybrid.

Is that a joke? Yes. Is it also kind of true? …Maybe.

Here are some highlights from his deployments. 

One of the stories that really stuck out to me involved a North Vietnamese general. On this particular mission Hathcock went in alone, something of a rarity.

On most sniper missions the sniper isn’t sent out alone – he is generally accompanied by a spotter. The spotter’s job is to provide security, call out wind and range, as well help search for targets.

According to reports, Hathcock was nearing the end of a deployment when this mission came down to him. Knowing it was one of the more dangerous missions, he took the mission himself in an effort to potentially save some of his fellow, less experienced snipers. It’d be almost certain detrimental arrogance were it anyone else.

For Hathcock, it was just a fact of life.

For three days Hathcock crawled on his side, inching his way to the general’s camp. During these three days of maneuvering, he was able to observe the patterns of the general.

With this information, he was able to set up in a position that would give him a clear shot at the general. Hathcock successfully dispatched the general from 700 yards away.

The soldiers only heard the shot but didn’t know where it had come from. Hathcock slowly moved from his firing position back into the tree line. Once under the cover of the trees, he “beat feet ” back to the landing zone and was airlifted out.

Upon returning to base, the rest of the Marines were both surprised and relieved to see him. Many had believed this mission would be his last. 

There are many other stories from Hathcocks career including the “Apache”, and  “Cobra”, but this one sticks out the most (to me, at least). The main point that rings true was his commitment to the mission.

According to his testimony, there were countless times he had bugs eating away at him, sweat draining in his eyes, and enemy soldiers so close he could literally reach out and touch them. Even with all that, Hathcock stayed in his bubble, blocked out every distraction, and pressed on. That’s some serious mental fortitude. 

So what do you all think? How would you like crawling through snake-infested jungle on your side, on what many believed to be a one way mission? Share this out on Facebook and Twitter and let us know!

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