In the robust history of the Marine Corps, the legendary figure of Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock frequently commands the spotlight. But it was Charles “Chuck” Mawhinney who silently stole the show, emerging as the Corps’ most formidable sniper. This son of Lakeview, Oregon, born in 1949, notched up a staggering 103 confirmed kills during a 16-month stint in the jungles of Vietnam between 1968 and 1969. Beyond these confirmed kills, he was attributed with an additional 216 “probable kills,” reflecting those instances where confirming a kill would compromise operational safety.

On February 12, Mawhinney passed away at his Baker City, Oregon home at the age of 74.

His Weapon of Choice

Mawhinney’s mastery of the Remington M40 sniper rifle and his subsequent legend remained largely under wraps until a fortuitous mention in a relatively unnoticed 1991 publication unveiled his story. The book was written by Joseph Ward, a friend of Mawhinney’s who had spent many missions as his downrange spotter.

Almost a Sailor

While Sgt. Mawhinney’s sharpshooting prowess earned him a revered place in Marine Corps history,  his military journey nearly took a different path. Initially drawn to the Navy, a Marine recruiter’s offer to defer his enlistment to accommodate deer hunting season swayed his decision, setting him on a course to become a Marine legend. He was also influenced by his father, who had been a Marine in World War II and had introduced him to the art of marksmanship.