The most lethal sniper in Marine Corps history, Charles “Chuck” Mawhinney, might never have taken on the role if it weren’t for a night of heavy drinking and a fake toothache, a new book reveals. Mawhinney’s military career in the Vietnam War, which included 103 confirmed kills and 216 probable kills, took a different direction after he failed an aviation exam due to a drunken night before, leading him to the sniper program.
- Charles “Chuck” Mawhinney is the deadliest sniper in the history of the Marine Corps with 103 confirmed kills and 216 probable kills during the Vietnam War.
- Mawhinney’s initial ambition was to become a pilot, but his dream was derailed due to failing a qualification exam after a night of heavy drinking. During his waiting period to retake the exam, he learned about the newly formed Marine Corps Scout Sniper program and decided to join.
- Mawhinney excelled in the Scout Sniper program due to his exceptional marksmanship. His service in Vietnam initially saw him as a rifleman and later as an unwilling machine gunner, roles he was unsatisfied with.
- To transition from a machine gunner role, Mawhinney faked a toothache and convinced the sniper platoon leader to let him join a sniper team as a spotter, a supporting role that eventually led to his position as a sniper team leader.
- After the war, Mawhinney’s incredible combat success remained largely unknown to the public for two decades. His numerous awards include the Bronze Star Medal with Combat Valor, Navy Achievement Medal, Navy Commendation Medal with Combat Valor, and two Purple Hearts.