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Chuck Mawhinney passed away today.

Terry Cross

Commercial Supporter
Full Member
Mar 15, 2003
Alexandria, LA 71303
Chuck passed today.
I think he was 75.

Always an ambassador to other Mil and L.E. riflemen. Always a Marine.


Never knew the guy but if you are posting this then he must have been a hell of a man. Sorry to hear that bud.

We could use a lot more of these real men on this world.
Plenty of history available on line concerning his service and his legacy.
Several interviews and at least a one book written by Jim Lindsay and him.

He was very much the quiet professional and few outside the SS community new about him or had a clue about is impact in the South East Asia theater. He was reluctantly pushed somewhat out of the shadows after Hathcock passed away years ago.
I thought more ought to be posted...this seems inadequate as well.


22 AUG 2013 | Pfc. Garrett WhiteMarine Corps Logistics Base Barstow
Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif. --
In the annals of Marine Corps history, the name typically associated with sniping is Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock, a Marine sniper during the Vietnam War; with 93 confirmed kills, one of the longest distance kills ever recorded, and a pioneer of the Marine’s sniper training program, Hathcock easily earns his spot in Marine Corps history.
However, thanks to a book titled: "Dear Mom: A Sniper's Vietnam,” released in 1991 by Marine sniper Joseph Ward, Marine sniper and Vietnam War veteran Charles B. “Chuck” Mawhinney was brought into the spotlight. In the book, Ward credited Mawhinney with 101 confirmed kills.
Military records show Mawhinney, an Oregon native, has 103 confirmed kills, and 216 probable kills during the Vietnam War; making him the deadliest sniper in Marine Corps history.
Mawhinney spent 16 months in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969, was said to have considered his job “the ultimate hunting trip.” He said he wouldn’t look his targets in the eyes he wouldn’t think if they had a wife or kids when they were in his scope all that mattered was he had to kill them before they killed him.
His rules of engagement were simple; if there was an armed enemy in his sights he was taking the shot.
To him, his job wasn’t all about taking lives, it was about saving them. Every person he killed was not only one less person to kill a fellow Marine, but he was also sapping the enemies will to fight.
When training rookie snipers, he would make sure they understood that. Their job was to kill the enemy and missing a shot, or having second thoughts on taking the shot could get them or a fellow Marine killed.
Mawhinney even took issue when a platoon leader made a “kill board” turning his unit’s job into a competition. Thinking this could cause some of the younger and overzealous Marines to take chances with their lives to get more kills thus putting their lives in danger, he took it up his chain of command to get the board taken down.
Keeping his fellow Marines safe was always at the forefront of his mind. So even when he was becoming disillusioned with America’s presence in Vietnam, he extended his tour twice in order to keep his Marines safe.
One memory that sticks with Mawhinney the most is the “one that got away”. Having just returned to Vietnam from leave, Mawhinney was getting his rifle back from the armorer, who assured him they didn’t make any changes to his rifle. Trusting the armorer, Mawhinney went out with his sniper team to support an infantry squad that was in the field.
From a concealed location hundreds of yards away from where the engagement was expected to occur, his team was charged with picking off any stragglers or North Vietnamese Army or Viet Cong reinforcements attempting the join the fight or thinking the area was safe from the fight.
From about 300 yards away Mawhinney spotted an armed enemy combatant in a rice paddy dike. He took the shot and missed. As a routinely deadly shot at that range, Mawhinney knew someone at the armory had done something to his scope. He took several more shots while trying to compensate for his altered scope, but couldn’t hit the target, and the man got away.
It’s one of the few things that still bother him about Vietnam. Mawhinney wonders how many people that man could have killed, how many of his friends, of his fellow Marines. He will never truly know, but it haunts him to this day.
Initially upset that his privacy, and his past was brought out to the public, Mawhinney, now retired from a Forest Service’s career in Oregon, has used his newfound fame to try and cast a better light on the snipers. He is in high demand among military and police marksman instructors for his knowledge and experiences as a sniper.
Mawhinney has been a guest of honor at various marksmanship competitions around the country attended by military personnel and police SWAT snipers. He is also the spokesman for Strider Knives, which produces a knife with his signature on the blade. One of these knives is presented to the top graduate of each USMC Scout Sniper School in Camp Pendleton, California.
Information for this story was gathered from a Los Angeles Times article http://articles.latimes.com/print/2000/jan/22/news/mn-56566 published January 22, 2000, and Charles Mawhinney’s personal webpage http://www.chuckmawhinney.com/.
He had more kills than Carlos, but never got the public credit/recognition. Never met Chuck, but did meet Carlos several times. Understated doesn't do it justice. Very low key guy.

I have noticed that about people with track records like this. Low key, quiet, reserved. My uncle was like that, I only once saw him get angry and slam his brother in law against a wall when the BiL was drunk and laid a hand on my mother (his sister). I guess I was about 8 at the time so roughly 1974-ish. Uncle Fred was a green beret in vietnam in 1963-64. Uncle Larry was a loud mouth ass hole that was a cop and pushed his weight around. I remember it like yesterday, You gonna do something about it you big bad green beret.......come on Larry I am far to old for this shit, my mother said here Larry have a seat and he back handed her, I never saw someone move so fast. Against the wall and on the floor. My aunt ran us kids out of the room so I don't know what happened next.

I came away from that thinking the less you are the louder you will be. It keeps coming true.

Asking him later about it, all he said was your uncle had a little too much to drink.

He was a good guy and the closest thing I had to a father.
To all the knew him you have my condolences!

Fair winds and calm seas!
I met Chuck about 1980 or so when he worked for my (then to be) father in law at the Mapleton Ranger District (USFS). He and my FIL would make homemade wine and then sample it, well more than just sample it. He told me about making homemade beer and if a teaspoon of sugar was needed for carbonation, then two would be better as he liked a good head on his beer when he poured it. Said there was a unusually warm day and he heard something blow up in his basement, then another and it sounded like grenades going off. Turned out all but a couple of bottles had exploded because of too much sugar and that his wife was more than mad when she saw the mess.

Wasn't until the late 90's when I learned of his military service through a TV show talking about his service. Aske my FIL if this was the same guy and he said yes. He knew about his service when he hired him and Chuck asked that he not tell anyone. By my interactions with him at that time. I never knew and pretty sure no one else did.

Saw him at the 2010 Shot Show, told him who my FIL was and he asked how he was. Then he told us about one of their wine tasting episodes and had my son and I both laughing.

Just from my interactions with him without knowing of his service, I thought he was a great guy. So sorry to hear of his passing. He will be missed.
If someone hears about funeral arrangements, please post here. I'm guessing it will be in Oregon which is a long way from Texas but maybe a couple of us could attend. I'm semi-retired so maybe I can make it. I missed Chris Kyle's memorial and always regretted it.
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Very sorry to hear the news. Getting older and failing health can be rough on a guy and some people do not want to pass on in a bleary morphine haze with some dink from hospice looking up from their phone every fifteen minutes to see if you are done yet.

Chuck was the stuff of legend. What's not to like about a guy who delayed enlistment until after deer season. Much like Chuck, my father-in-law spent his civilian life in the forest service and as a game warden, he hates being old and needing a walker to go take a leak. He wonders why it is taking so long to get to the forest in the sky.
On a slightly technical note, Ward's claim he inherited Chuck's Vietnam used rifle is interesting. I thought the Marines, while going through receivers at PWS, noted a SN and traced it back to Chuck. They then rebuilt the receiver into a period correct M40 that Chuck and others used at the time. At least that's the story I got by speaking with folks at the Museum of the Marine Corps where that rifle resides.

RIP Chuck.
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On a slightly technical note, Ward's claim he inherited Chuck's Vietnam used rifle is interesting. I thought the Marines, while going through receivers at PWS, noted a SN and traced it back to Chuck. They then rebuilt the receiver into a period correct M40 that Chuck and others used at the time. At least that's the story I got by speaking with folks at the Museum of the Marine Corps where that rifle resides.

RIP Chuck.
I think he was just the next Marine to be issued the weapon.

When Chuck rotated out the rifle would have stayed in the armory and been reissued.
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