This is a post from my blog section “Profiles of True Heroes – Military and Law Enforcement“. I love to go cycling. As I started getting serious about it, I decided to name my routes after people – and who better to dedicate my routes to than the heroes in military and law enforcement?
After completing a route, I would select a hero I had heard about and then write about them. There are three types of people in this post: some gave their service for America and served in the armed forces. Some have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. And some protected the local community and died in the line of duty.
After their story, I included information about the route I dedicated to these heroes. I hope you can learn more about them and gain an understanding of what they have done for us.
USMC Gunnery Sergeant Carlos N. Hathcock II, Vietnam War – Scout Sniper, 1st Marine Division
Carlos Hathcock II is remembered as being the most successful US military sniper, having 93 confirmed kills (until Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle came along). He grew up in the sticks of central Arkansas and always dreamed of becoming a Marine. That dream came true and he enlisted on May 20, 1959, at the age of 17.
Before deploying to Vietnam, Hathcock competed in and won many coveted shooting matches including the Camp Perry and the Wimbledon Cups. During the Vietnam War Hathcock had 93 confirmed kills that included North Vietnamese Army and Viet-Cong personnel. A sniper kill had to be confirmed by an acting third party, who had to be an officer, as well as the sniper’s spotter who went along on missions. However, many times, snipers did not have an acting third party present, which made confirming kills difficult, especially if the target was behind enemy lines, which was normally the case. Hathcock himself estimated that he had killed over 300 enemy personnel during his time in Vietnam but those include unconfirmed kills.
Hathcock was so successful as a sniper that he was feared and loathed by the enemy. At one time, he had a $30,000 bounty on his life! He also took part in several covert op missions where he had to travel alone, behind enemy lines. One time, he had to crawl 1,500 yards through a field in order to take out an NVA general. Once the target was down, he crawled back out of the field, having to evade many enemy soldiers. The mission took him four days and three nights without sleep.
The only time Carlos was seriously wounded was when he was traveling with his fellow leathernecks in an amtrack. Along the way, they ran over an anti-tank mine. Finding the interior engulfed in flames, Hathcock acted quickly. With severe risk to his own life, he rescued seven Marines before he exited the burning vehicle. While recovering from his burns, Hathcock only received a purple heart for his actions. For the next 30 years, his Marine comrades argued with Marine authorities to try and get Hathcock the Medal of Honor. However, it was determined that he would receive a Silver Star instead.
After several deployments “across the pond” (as Hathcock would say), he became a lead instructor at the Marine sniper school in Quantico, Virginia where he also instructed Police agencies and Navy SEAL snipers. It was Carlos’s dream to become a “lifer” by remaining in the Corps for the full 20-year enlistment. However, that was not to be the case. Towards the end of his career, he contracted MS (Multiple Sclerosis) and was forced to retire on full medical disability.
Hathcock was still able to lead a very satisfying post-retirement life when he discovered a love for shark fishing in the Atlantic Ocean. Hathcock’s son, Carlos III, decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and became a Marine himself, later earning the rank of Gunnery Sergeant as his father had.
Carlos Hathcock II died in 1999 as a result of complications from MS. In one of his most famous quotes, he said, “I like shooting, and I love hunting. But I never did enjoy killing anybody. It’s my job. If I don’t get those bastards, then they’re gonna kill a lot of these kids dressed up like Marines. That’s the way I look at it,”
Distance: 30.01 miles
Duration: 2 hours, 28 minutes, 55 seconds
Average Pace: 12.1 mph
This was a route I had been wanting to take for a while. I have now conquered C-470 as far east as I can go and as far west/north to Bowles. Maybe on my next route, I can take it from Bowles into Golden! I’m just now getting over a cold, so I coughed like crazy towards the end and have a headache. This route wasn’t really challenging to be exact and I could have taken it much further. However, I learned from my last route that when I get to the halfway point, I have to turn around and go back!