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Ultimate Marine (Hathcock vs Mawhinney)


Who is the Ultimate Marine’s Marine? Each day, we’ll compare two Marine Corps legends across three categories: Service (actions while in uniform), Legacy (how their service continued to impact the Corps and the world) and Motivation (esprit de corps and overall badassery). The Marines Blog will judge initial rounds internally and guest writers will take over for the final rounds. Be sure to make your voice heard by voting in our simultaneous fan bracket here on the Marines Blog. Share your opinion on our Facebook page, or tweet your thoughts with us @usmc using the hashtag: #UltimateMarine

ViewBracket“Soooooo Gunny, I hear you’re some sort of Marine Corps legend.”

“Yeah, I have 93 confirmed kills. No biggie.”

“Well, I’ve got 103. No biggie.”

“I have another 100 unconfirmed though, but I don’t really count those.”

ViewFanBracket“So? I’ve got more than 200 unconfirmed. I don’t really count those either.”

“I took out a North Vietnamese commanding general, boy!”

“I made 16 NVAs from the same platoon, all with head shots … on Valentines Day!!”

“I shot another sniper through his scope, recorded a 2,500-meter kill, AND EARNED A SILVER STAR FOR PULLING SEVEN MARINES OUT OF A BURNING AMTRAC!!!”

(long pause)

“Well played, Gunny. Well played.”

That’s how I imagine a one-up session between legendary Marine sniper Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock and the lesser-known Sgt. Chuck Mawhinney going.

And if you didn’t catch on, Mawhinney is the one with more confirmed kills.

Most Marines probably aren’t aware of this fact due to Hathcock’s legendary status. That’s because Mawhinney, who left the Corps in 1970, told no one about his service as a Marine sniper in Vietnam – not even his wife. It took more than two decades and a book published by another Marine sniper for Mawhinney’s exploits to hit the limelight.

We all know Carlos Hathcock is a badass. We don’t know much about Chuck Mawhinney other than that he actually killed more enemy than ol’ White Feather. That’s the biggest obstacle in determining who was more of a Marine’s Marine. Yes, Mawhinney technically has ten more confirmed kills, but 93 is nothing to scoff at.

One story has it that Hathcock crawled more than 1,000 yards over the course of three days to engage a target and nearly got stepped on by an North Vietnamese Army soldier at some point during his trek. Yet, Hathcock had the discipline to stay still and avoid detection, and he did it while staring down poisonous vipers and undoubtedly urinating and defecating on himself along the way. If that’s not motivation I don’t know what is.

The only comparable story to be told on Mawhinney’s behalf is the time he set up shop overlooking a creek NVA soldiers would inevitably have to cross. Mawhinney waited patiently until an entire platoon walked into the sights of an M14 he used for backup. One by one, he dropped 16 of them with shots to the head. All of them count as unconfirmed kills though because no one was ever able to search the bodies for intelligence. The Marines could only watch the lifeless enemy float down the creek. Oooh-freaking-Raah!!

Motivation: Tie.

As far as their respective legacies go, I’m giving this one to Hathcock for obvious reasons. Sorry Chuck. I mean, when was the last time anyone said a Mawhinney ditty at boot camp? Add the fact that Hathcock has a sniper range at Camp Lejeune named after him, as well as a pistol range at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, and the Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock Award, which is presented annually to the American service member who does the most to promote marksmanship training, and it’s really no contest.

Had Mawhinney not been so damn modest and bragged a little more about his service in Vietnam, this category would probably be a tie too. But he didn’t and it’s not.

Legacy: Hathcock.

I find it extremely difficult to talk smack about anyone’s service to our country, especially guys like Hathcock and Mawhinney, but I have to choose.

Once again, we don’t know much about Mawhinney’s service beyond the astounding number of enemy he sent to meet their maker. But we do know that beyond being extremely stealthy and lethal, Hathcock would run through fire for his Marines. Literally.

Hathcock was knocked unconscious when an AMTRAC he was riding in hit an anti-tank mine. After coming to, Hathcock pulled seven Marines from the burning vehicle while suffering severe burns. For this action Hathcock received the Purple Heart, and, 30 years later, the Silver Star for this action.

Service: Edge to Hathcock.

Given the three criteria of service, legacy and motivation, Hathcock beats out Mawhinney as a Marine’s Marine. I mean, you don’t become a legend for nothing.

That’s not to diminish Mawhinney’s service. He’s currently in his 60s and I’m not even 30 yet, but I’d be running at warp speed in the opposite direction if he wanted to scrap. That’s probably what he’d want though, because as Marine snipers say: “You can run, but you’ll just die tired.”

— — — — — —

Round One

Daly vs Lejeune

Foss vs Hulbert

Diamond vs Gray

Basilone vs Johnson

Puller vs Barnum

Hathcock vs Mawhinney

Vittori vs Glenn

Butler vs Davis

Round Two

Daly vs Foss

Diamond vs Basilone

Puller vs Hathcock

Glenn vs Butler

Final Four

Daly vs Basilone

Puller vs Butler

The Ultimate Marine’s Marine

Daly vs Puller

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9 Responses

  1. Terry Pepper says:

    thats said as a true marine thanks terry .

  2. Mike Walling says:

    Both were Outstanding Marine Snipers, but Hathcock’s legacy inspired Stephen Hunter’s series of Bob Lee Swagger novels, and that is good enough to break the tie in my eyes.

  3. David Seitz says:

    I had the honor and privilege to meet and speak with Gy Hathcock before his passing. He was not a boastful man by any definition. Honestly both are great Marines in their own right. Semper Fi to both.

  4. Russ Romei says:

    He was at hill 55 when I was there!

  5. The fact Mawhinney never spitted about his record makes him the winner. He never broke the discipline of being a sniper

  6. I think it is all going to come down to Dan Daly and Chesty Puller..Puller just getting a very close edge over Smedley Butler in that bracket. Hard to pick a winner between 2 legends among legends.

  7. The act of making kill thru the other snipers scope is the winning factor

  8. Terry Mahoney says:

    Every where you look in USMC history, in every category of martial excellence, you find not just one heroic example, but at least two.

    It’s as if we print them in pairs, and yet each is his own animal.

  9. I knew Carlos, he was a Great Marine !