A sniper inches forward through rough bush. He’s been crawling on his belly for four days and three nights over a distance of 1,500 yards, but at last he has his target, a North Vietnamese Army general, in view. Steadying his high-powered rifle, the sniper draws a bead on the man through his telescopic sight. He curls his finger round the weapon’s trigger. The general’s life hangs by a thread.
The sniper who painstakingly dragged himself for almost a mile was Carlos Norman Hathcock II of the United States Marine Corps. Hathcock was born on May 20, 1942, in Little Rock, Arkansas, and raised 100 miles away in Wynne by his grandmother after his parents split. Guns played an important part in Hathcock’s early life. His first one, given to him by his father when he was just three years old, was a non-working Second World War Mauser.
From the old Mauser, Hathcock graduated to a single shot .22 caliber J.C. Higgins rifle. At the age of just ten, he used the gun to hunt for rabbits and squirrels to help feed his poverty-stricken family. But although skilled with a rifle, Hathcock was apparently no scholar. Indeed, he dropped out of school at the age of just 15 and went to work for a Little Rock construction company.