In the United States Marine Corps, the most dangerous job in combat is that of the sniper. With no backup and little communication with the outside world, these men disappeared for weeks on end in the wilderness with nothing but intellect and iron will to protect them--as they would watch, wait, and finally strike.
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July 06, 2003
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Excerpt from Silent Warrior by Charles Henderson
METAL TASTE. COPPER. It felt like a mix of acid and adrenaline in Carlos Hathcock's mouth as he knelt just inside the cover that the trees and ground foliage provided him. Slowly he raised the Model 70 Winchester to his shoulder and looked through the 10-power Unertl scope mounted above the rifle's receiver.
He turned the focusing ring on the long slender tube, bringing the white plaster house and the sandbagged compound that surrounded it into focus. Even with the powerful telescopic sight the structures and the few men he saw around them still looked tiny. Nearly a mile and a half away, Carlos considered that he still had a lot of ground to cover before he could make the shot.
"I gotta go worm-style," he said in his mind. "Grass is shorter than I thought, too."
He considered his odds and didn't like them at all. The metal taste grew stronger, and he pulled out his canteen and took a long, slow drink of water.
"Make myself look like a bush. Like a hump of grass," Carlos told himself as he slowly and methodically plucked handfuls of grass at the jungle's edge. He stuffed as much as he could carry inside his shirt and crept to deeper cover where he could work.
Carefully, he cut little slits along the backs of his shirt and trousers. Taking a small bunch of grass in his fingers, Carlos stuffed their ends through one of the incisions he had cut in his clothing and brought the short ends through another opening next to the primary slit, thus securing the camouflage tightly. The grass laid at a slight angle, so he gently spread the blades so that each clump would stand and look natural.
Carlos had taken light green and dark green camouflage paint and covered every speck of skin on his face, ears, neck, hands, arms, even his eyelids.
With his Winchester cradled beneath him, Carlos knelt slowly and deliberately, and then spread himself, stomach down, on the ground.
Now, well into the night, Carlos inched himself forward. Oozing like a worm. His motion so purposeful and slow, one could hardly detect any movement at all.
Carlos reminded himself of what Captain Jim Land had taught him.
"A sniper's best defenses are cover and concealment, and long-range accuracy. Most important," Land had taught, "one shot, one kill."