April 14, 2013

Sergeant Carlos Hathcock: White Feather And The Cobra

His story in the U.S. Naval magazine, The Sea Tiger, had made his name known at last to the North Vietnamese. For months this Marine sniper had killed dozens of their finest soldiers, as well as their compatriots in the Viet Cong, practically at will. He did this with such effectiveness that they had nicknamed him Long Tra’ng (White Feather), based on the ornament he wore on the side of his boonie hat. This symbolism seemed to taunt his enemies with the fact that, no matter how hard they tried, they would never kill him and he would always be the last man standing in any duel with the best they sent.

This Marine’s name was Sergeant Carlos Hathcock II, of the 1st Marine division. A man who plied his trade around his home on Hill 55 in South Vietnam. An area where his mark was such that a bounty lay unclaimed by the many who had sought him out because they had become part of his tally of kills.

He knew he was wanted, but it didn’t faze him in the least. He continued his stalks, unaware that hundreds of miles away a certain man with a similar talent had read of his fame and been assigned, like so many others before him, to hunt down the wily American and end his mastery of the battlefield. Unlike them though, his superiors would make sure this hunter was especially good before sending him south along the Ho Chi Minh trail and into Hathcock’s killing grounds. Once he arrived, he planned to lure the sniper into a duel on his terms, with one well aimed shot that would signify the victor.

No one has ever found the name of this North Vietnamese sniper, when exactly he departed for South Vietnam, or how many he would/did kill before arriving around Hill 55, but his story is believed to have began with the confirmation of Hathcock’s identity in Sea Tiger. Senior officers sought out the best sniper they could find, and gave him the sole purpose of hunting down and killing White Feather.

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  • caseymac1944

    Thank you for sharing this event in the Gunny's life. I have heard it before, but never with quite the poignancy provided here. He is truly missed.

  • CarlosHathcock

    Hello. Not sure of rods but we did lose a great many after he passed and mom movef in with us. I seem to recall a big trolling rod that may fit this description.

  • BobbyRoweJr

    Not to get off subject but I have a fishing rod I believe your father owned. On the reel seat it is engraved GYSGT C.N. HATHCOCK. I have had this fishing rod for about 15 years now.I discovered the engravings this morning and googled the name and quickly became impressed with him and honored as well to possess an item from a man that was so great. I would like to know a little bit more about this fishing rod.


    The thing I always like about Hathcock was that in interviews there wasn't a hint of "War is Hell" angst in the guy.  He liked his profession.

  • MikePerry2

    Many thanks for the kind words Mr. Hathcock. I have been a fan of your dad since reading about him back in the late 1980's. His accomplishments are the yardstick by which others should be measured.