Marine Life for Carlos Hathcock
Raised by his grandmother for the first 12 years of his life, money was an issue. Hathcock took on the responsibility of caring for the family. He began hunting and shooting to put food on the table using his .22-caliber J.C. Higgins single-shot rifle. When he wasn’t hunting animals, he spent his free time hunting imaginary enemies with the Mauser his father brought back from WWII. His instinctual nature toward service, combined with love of country and firearms, made the dream of being a Marine an obvious choice; and at the age 17, he made that dream a reality.
Hathcock’s service record bolstered 93 confirmed kills (a conservative number). Known for his patience when pursuing his targets, he was legendary throughout Vietnam and quickly became a person of interest for the Vietcong. At one point the PAVN placed a bounty of $30,000 on Hathcock. For reference, the average going rate for bounties on American snipers was between $8 and $2,000; I would say that’s a good indicator of a job well done).
However, Hathcock was not the only infamous Vietnam figurehead being talked about and feared. A Vietnamese female platoon leader, interrogator and sniper known as “Apache” created quite the name for herself. She was not known for her leadership skills or even her sniper skills, but for her propensity toward torturing American “GIs.”
The name “Apache” was a nod toward the Apache Indians, who were known for their “creative” methods of torture before killing their victims. One of her signature moves involved placing herself and the prisoner of war within ear shot of a U.S. base. Why? To make sure U.S. soldiers heard her victim’s screams. This was a trap coupled with psychological warfare. Even if the Americans didn’t take the bait by running toward the GI to save him and then being killed themselves by one of her snipers, they would be forced to listen as their brother was tortured and left to die.
During her reign of terror, Americans would find her victims without eyelids, she kept them as trophies. Victims were found skinned and with fingernails missing. She made it a point to castrate them as well. She would leave them to bleed to death, or let them go knowing they wouldn’t survive.
Apache was overheard once talking to her victim, according to an excerpt in the book “Marine Sniper: 93 Confirmed Kills” by Charles Henderson. Warning: The excerpt is graphic:
“You cherry boy? I think maybe no. You get plenty p**** back stateside, yeah. You get Vietnamese p**** too? I think you do. You go China Beach swimming, f*** plenty. You like get cherry p****? Plenty American GI like cherry p****. F*** many young girl-take cherry p****. True! I know true. You mother****** GI!” she said. “You no f*** no more,” she said, as she approached him with a long, curved knife in her hand. Taking his genitals in her left hand, she jammed the blade’s point beneath the base of his penis, grazing his pubic bone. She pulled the knife with a sweeping, circular cut that released both testicles and his penis in one large handful of flesh that gushed with blood. She said, shaking with laughter, “Run, GI. Maybe you live-you find doctor in time! Run to wire. We watch Marines shoot you motherf*****.”
Carlos Hathcock vs. Apache
After this, Hathcock had had enough. He and his spotter finally got the opportunity they were looking for. They spotted a sniper platoon about 700 yards away:
“We were in the midst of switching rifles. We saw them, I saw a group coming, five of them. I saw her squat to pee; that’s how I knew it was her. They tried to get her to stop, but she didn’t stop. I stopped her. I put one extra in her for good measure.”
The shots fired by Hathcock completely shattered Apache’s spine and blew out all of her lower organs. A key moral victory for the U.S. troops, for Hathcock, and justice served for the ones brutally tortured at her hand.