Deadliest Marine Corps Sniper Dies

( – The sharpest of Marine sharpshooters has died, just a few years after he told his life story in a book that revealed his career as a Marine Corps sniper.

Charles Mawhinney, known as “Chuck,” died in Oregon on February 12th at 75 years of age. Though modest about his military prowess, Mawhinney worked with writer Jim Lindsay, telling his story to the author, which resulted in a 2023 book called “The Sniper: The Untold Story of the Marine Corps’ Greatest Marksman of All Time.”

Mawhinney fought in the Vietnam War as a sniper. He joined the military in 1967 and was long credited for an extraordinary number of kills, though he was not personally boastful about his record. Author Jim Lindsay described Mawhinney as a “pretty cool cat” who was a devoted father and husband, and as someone who didn’t brag about his military accomplishments.

But the military keeps records, and a teenage Mawhinney was known to the Corps for having 103 “kills” from the period of 1968 to 1969 alone. It is thought that he may have an additional 216, but it is not possible to confirm these given the danger of identifying the bodies of adversaries in a hot war zone.

Mawhinney was awarded a Bronze Star for valor, two purple heart designations (these are given to soldiers wounded on the battlefield), and several other military recognitions. When he came back to civilian life, Mawhinney lived a quiet family life and worked for the U.S. Forest Service.

For some time there was controversy over whether Mawhinney or another sniper had the highest kill count. Until 1991 fellow Marine Carlos Hathcock was officially recognized as the branch’s most lethal sniper with 93 confirmed kills. But in that year, a “spotter” for Mawhinney, Joseph Ward, wrote a book about the Vietnam War and credited Mawhinney as having 101 confirmed kills. His record is now verified to have been 103 kills.

Chuck Mawhinney left behind three children and his wife.

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