Charles Mawhinney killed 16 Viet Cong soldiers in 30 seconds … at night

USMC sniper in Vietnam war
The US Marine Corps sniper during the Vietnam war (Photo: History)

The Vietnam war era and the special forces of that time have raised many heroes. One of them was Charles Mawhinney or just Chuck. He was one of the most lethal snipers of the Vietnam War with 103 confirmed kills. His most successful engagement was when he stopped a Viet Cong assault by placing 16 headshots in just 30 seconds at night in bad weather.

“Chuck was extremely aggressive,” retired Master Gunnery Sgt. Mark Limpic, Mawhinney’s squad leader, later told LA Times. “He could run a half-mile, stand straight up and shoot offhand and drop somebody at 700 yards.”

His operational area was near Da Nang, a place where was set up U.S. military base called Arizona Territory. Mawhinney most successful engagement started when a large North Vietnamese Army force was spotted moving its way south towards the U.S. base. The air support was unavailable due bad weather conditions (monsoon). So Chuck volunteered to cover a river crossing where the Viet Cong force was expected to march.

He left his favorite sniper rifle at the compound and moved forward towards the enemy with an M14 semiautomatic rifle and a Starlight scope, an early night vision device.

Chuck and his spotter positioned themselves overlooking the shallowest river crossing. A few hours later, enemy soldiers appeared on the exact crossing where Chuck was waiting. A man from recon approached the river first, but Mawhinney remained calm. When the rest of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) began to cross the river, he kept waiting. It wasn’t until the men were deep into the river that he began firing.

In a short amount of time, 16 enemies were killed. Chuck engaged the enemy at ranges from 25 to 75 meters, nailing one man after the other. As he describes it:

“In 30 seconds, I shot 16 times, 16 went down the river.”

The two Marines then retreated to base as the Viet Cong forces tried to reach them with small arms and machine gun fire. The History Channel reconstructed battle and interviewed Mawhinney and another sniper.


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