If it weren’t for the drink and the fake toothache of the most deadly marine sniper


Charles “Chuck” Mauney, the deadliest man in Marine Corps history
Courtesy photo

  • The deadliest sniper in Marine Corps history is Charles “Chuck” Mauney.
  • During the Vietnam War, 103 people were killed, and 216 more likely in 16 months.
  • But the popular shooter might not be the same if it weren’t for some unexpected events.

Chuck Mawhinney’s death as a sniper protecting his fellow Marines in Vietnam is legendary, but it might not have been one if he hadn’t gotten drunk at the worst possible time and later faked a toothache. A new book has been released.

With 103 confirmed kills and possibly hundreds more, Mauney is the deadliest sniper in Marine Corps history, a fact that ruffled some feathers when it came to light decades after the end of the Vietnam War.

Jim Lindsay’s “Sniper,” the first autobiography to explore Mauney’s life and experiences in and out of war with resources, tells the story of a wild young man who finds his calling in a brutal conflict, and later tries unsuccessfully to escape. behind. Despite his service and fame, some nightmares never went away.

Mawhinney made a name for himself as a scout shooter and skilled marksman, but that wasn’t what he wanted when he joined the Navy, like his father before him, the book suggests. What he really wanted to do was fly.

He loved to shoot and had a talent since childhood, but when he thought of enlisting, he asked if he could become a pilot. “If you sign up for four years, I guarantee you’ll be in aviation, whether you fly or not is up to you,” the recruiter said.

Mawhinney signed up with the Marines on the spot and immediately went to talk to local authorities about expunging his criminal records, especially a file cabinet full of petty crimes, the rest of his junior year involving too much drinking. .

Officials agreed to clear his records after confirming that he had joined the Navy, paving the way for a smooth enlistment.

But Mawhinney couldn’t quite shake his carefree nature as a Marine, and one night of drinking ruined his chances of becoming an aviator. But it opened the door to becoming a sniper.

Charles Mawhinney
Marine Corps

Before the 8pm test to qualify for aviation training, Maunyney’s friends invited him to get a tattoo. None of them had seen combat, but he joined his friends as he went with them and drank some liquid courage.

The next thing he knows, he’s waking up in a movie theater at 5:00 a.m. He’s the only one of his friends with a tattoo.

When he returned to base for a qualifying test, he failed, meaning he had to wait another month to try again. During that waiting period, he learned of a new program that the US did not have when it first entered the Vietnam War: the Marine Corps Scout Sniper Program.

“He got into it because he liked shooting guns more than piloting,” Marksman’s longtime friend Lindsey explains in his new book.

Mawhinney qualified for the Marine Scout Sniper Course as he distinguished himself as an expert marksman. In the program, he first trained with a sniper rifle, a Remington 700 with a 3-9x Redfield scope, learned to record critical information on previous engagements (DOPE), and learned how to navigate camera entrances and exits, day or night. , and how to find booby traps.

He earned the Scout Sniper MOS or Mission Occupational Specialty 8541. He soon headed off to war.

Arriving in Vietnam, an officer shouted, “Chuck Mauney! MOS 0311, rifleman! Lima 3/5.” As he tried to correct the officer, he yelled, “The Corps doesn’t need snipers! It needs yells!” He then received the much-hated and battle-hardened M16 rifle.

After his first real firefight, when he took control of an M60 machine gun after two gunners fell, he was told he would become a new machine gunner, a position he didn’t need any more than he needed his M16.

“Even though he destroyed the M16, he knew that the machine gunner’s life was short,” Lindsey wrote. “Chuck tried to trade the big guns but there were no takers.”

Courtesy photo

In this particular dilemma, Mawhinney realized that the Marine sniper with Lima 3/5 needed a spotter. All he needed was a reason to go to An Hoa to propose.

Mawhinney faked a toothache, and when he got to the base, he bypassed the dentist and rescued the sniper platoon leader instead.

He was able to convince him to join a sniper team as a spotter, a support role used to learn the tricks of the trade in a real combat environment before becoming a sniper. At that time, spotters supported snipers by scouting targets, covering them, and ensuring hit and kill shots, among other battlefield tasks.

At the officer’s station where the gunmen received the M14 rifles, Mawhinney handed over a defective M16 and said, “Drop this son of a bitch. He never did anything good and never will.”

Mauney was a spotter for a short time before being made a sniper squad leader and given a new Remington 700 with .308 ammo. With this weapon, the military version called the M40 inflicts more damage on the enemy than some companies.

In his most famous engagement, he killed 16 enemy fighters in 30 seconds with 16 headshots during a nighttime river crossing by North Vietnamese troops and an attack on the Delta 1/5 position.

After Mawhinney and the interrogator fought off what would have been a heavy attack, the pair quickly fell back and left the scene with small arms and machine guns, and as Lindsay described in the book, “pit helmets and bodies floated down the river.”

When he finally left the Marine Corps, Mawhinney was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat Valor, the Navy Achievement Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat Valor, and a pair of Purple Hearts.

However, it would be another two decades before the public would recognize the boxer’s unparalleled fighting achievements.


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