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Remembering a Legend: Deadliest Marine Sniper Dies

via DNX NewS

Chuck Mawhinney, a Marine Corps veteran who became the deadliest sniper in that branch’s history during the Vietnam War with 103 confirmed and 216 probable kills, has died at age 75.

Mawhinney attended sniper scout school and was deployed to Vietnam in 1968, where he primarily used a Remington M40 rifle from 300-1,000 yards away.

One legendary engagement saw Mawhinney kill 16 enemy soldiers crossing a river in a single volley of headshots on Valentine’s Day 1969, intimidating the rest to withdraw.

“It was during the monsoon season, and the river had just dropped after heavy rains. It was still cloudy, but sheet lightning up in the clouds lit everything up like starlight. We sneaked into a place near the ford and sat in an eddy-cut eroded into the bank. Pretty soon an NVA scout started across the river,” Mawhinney said.

“I didn’t want to let him get into the elephant grass on the other side, and had the scope on his head—about all that showed above the water—but when he got close to the grass he stopped. He stood there for a little bit, looking around, then waded back across the river the way he’d come.”

With extensive hunting experience, Mawhinney described sniping as “the ultimate hunting trip” of man against man.

“Pretty soon a bunch more showed up, and when they got out into the water I started shooting, killing 16, all with head shots, until they stopped coming. I shot the rifle 16 times. Evidently that intimidated the rest of the unit, and they all pulled out during the night. The river’s current carried away all but two of the NVA I’d shot. That was on February 14th of 1969, St. Valentine’s Day,” Mawhinney said.

“It was the ultimate hunting trip: a man hunting another man who was hunting me,” Mawhinney said. “Don’t talk to me about hunting lions or elephants; they don’t fight back with rifles and scopes. I just loved it.”

The full details of his career were not known until his 2023 autobiography, where he told his story from his own perspective.

Mawhinney’s record stands as a testament to his skill and service during one of America’s deadliest modern conflicts.

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