Crawl and kill: 1967

Jake Greenleaf, guest writer

This is the story of Roy Douglas: a young man who was given the honor of serving with the deadliest sniper in the Vietnam War. Roy’s father who’s name was Jim was a Marine in the Second World War. When Roy was a young lad he would beg his dad to tell him stories about his buddies from the war and the missions they went on. Jim obliged him but being smart he waited until Roy was old enough before he told him the gnarliest of the stories. These war stories sparked something in Roy and even his dad could see it and was ecstatic about it. Jim was now on a new mission in life, if his only kid was going to join the Corps, he was going to be ready and was going to be one of the elites.
Roy was taught to stalk and kill animals starting out with spotting for his dad at the age of ten. He was surprisingly good at this along with being an excellent shot. Jim knew Roy had received this gift from God. Jim put Roy through multiple challenges in training; making him run long distances with weight on his back and swimming in the ocean with rocks in his pack, Roy had been trained to his limit and was ready.
Roy was 17 and finally old enough to enlist but he did have a good chance of being drafted. He had been eagerly awaiting this moment for years. Enlisting was something that he was set on doing since he sat starry eyed listing to his dad’s stories. He was ready to do his country right and fight for his right to live in freedom.
Roy’s friends had all deserted him when they took a turn for the worst and started getting into drugs and even started to join in with all the peace rally junk. He strongly disliked this as most of his friends had dodged the draft, they had been inspired by the famous boxer Muhammad Ali who refused induction to the Army. Roy found this a very cowardly move and showed that even though these people lived in a free country they were not brave enough to fight for that right themselves.
Roy instead of joining in with all of that took a different path and became a hard worker. He started working around his dad’s shop at a young age but started working there everyday after school when he started high school. Everything he would ever need to know about working on cars and motorcycles he learned in that little shop. His dad taught him that having a career to focus on is good but to always remember the most important aspects in life: “God, family and country”.
In 1967 Roy had graduated top of his class from Parris Island, where Marines that were enlisted or drafted from the Eastern portion of the country were sent for basic training. After the time he spent there he was known as a good leader and his strong moral.
He was told that he would be joining the 1st Marine Division when he was shipped out. This was special to Roy because there was one man that stood out in the whole Marine Corps to him and that was a man named Carlos Hathcock. Hathcock had made a name for himself in the Marines already. He was in boot camp years before he had set a record of shooting 248 out of 250 targets. Roy knew that there was a chance that he might be able to meet him, since they would be in the same division. Although the 1st division was the biggest in the Corps so he might go through the whole war without seeing him once.
Throughout his first few months in Vietnam Roy had learned an abundance of useful tactics and had become an even better spotter than before. He was very quick to learn the skill of spotting. He had to adapt a few small things in spotting for a sniper rather than spotting while hunting. Roy in fact was such a good spotter he was paired with Carlos himself for a serious mission. This was Roy’s first serious mission that had a high chance of his death if the smallest mistake was made. Although Carlos was a nice man and befriended Roy, he felt as if Carlos did not need him because he was so experienced and was quick to adapt to different ranges without a spotters help. Roy felt like he was not truly going to be needed unless the shot was going to be at a decent distance where wind speed and bullet drop came into play. Carlos insisted that his help may be needed after the shot. Roy being new to this type of mission did not understand yet what he meant.
Their mission (something that Carlos specialized in) would be to sneak behind enemy lines and crawl Unnoticed for close to a mile depending on the surroundings, then take one shot at their target which in this case a NVA general. Then they would extract from this area, hopefully doing so unnoticed. Roy however had no experience on a mission like this, everything would be different than what he was used to and would have to learn some things from Carlos. After about a week of constant training and tips from Carlos he finally felt confident and ready to move, the next morning they would begin their hike and then about two miles outside of the NVA camp they would crawl for a little less than a mile until they would prepare to take a shot that would end the life of a unsuspecting man.
The entry was smooth, Carlos and Roy saw few signs of the enemy during their day of trekking through the jungle terrain. They were roughly two miles outside where the camp was believed to be but it was to dark for them to see where they were stepping. They were making to much noise on the lose jungle floor and decided to spend the night. They covered themselves with multiple layers of vegetation that looked identical to the surrounding vegetation. When they were thoroughly covered and could not be seen they both laid there silent without much chance of actually sleeping. Roy however did fall into a deep sleep.
Suddenly he woke up during the early hours of the morning to something making a small ruckus of noise fairly close to his head. He immediately gripped his KA-BAR that was on his side ready to at least try to put up a fight with the enemy if they were to make any physical contact with him. But he couldn’t quite see what was making the noise. A black snake with bright yellow stripes blaring across it known as the “two step” it’s venom was only somewhat deadly; although it would make you very sick and without treatment it could kill you was right beside him. Roy laid on the cold jungle floor motionless while this serpent slithered slowly over his stomach, there was nothing he could do except wait for it to find a new interest and slither away. It took about two minutes for it to leave but for Roy in felt like a year, once it moved along he woke up Carlos and told him what had happened.
At this point there was a glimmer of light peaking over the trees bringing some light, they covered up where they had slept and made it look natural as if a animal of some sort had been napping there. Following this they set off to complete their mission.
When they were close to a mile outside off the NVA camp they began to crawl, their movement needed to be minimal at this point. If they were seen now it would be instant death. There were many instances where a enemy soldier was just meters away from them. When this happened they were absolutely still and silent until the deterrent to move on.
There they sat only 1,000 meters outside of the camp waiting for an opportunity to take the shot on their target but there were very few chances. The sun was just beginning to set when their target finally was in a position where they could take the shot. Although Carlos was a good shot compared to any sniper, it is hard to hit a moving target at a little over a half a mile. Luckily, the shot would not have to be made on a moving, target because the man they were assigned to kill was standing still as he relieved his bladder at the corner of the base.
This was their chance to take the shot, Roy calculated the distance and the wind speed while Carlos quickly adjusted his scope. *Crack* The man was hit right where they intended, right on his heart. He instantly collapsed. The men that were suppose to be guarding him scurried around not knowing what had happened. Roy and Carlos extracted from their position as silent and fast as possible. Their trek back through the jungle went smoothly with exception of a few hiccups; there was a group of about 10 NVA soldiers that were making there way straight towards them but luckily Roy spotted them first. Hiding down at the base of a large tree they were unseen by the passing convoy. After this small incident Roy and Carlos without stopping, even during the night. The mission was intended to be a one night mission however with their choice to stay the first night made it much longer. No food was brought with them and by the time they made it to base on day 3 they were happier to eat than anything else.
Carlos Hathcock left the war with a record in the Marine Corps with 93 confirmed kills and upwards or 300 unconfirmed kills. Years later he helped found the first sniping program in the United States military changing the way war would be faiths for years to come. Roy Douglas was medically discharged the following year when a stalk and kill mission went terribly wrong, his right knee was shot by some type of small arms munition. To some these men are just another statistic but to others they are true American hero’s.
Works Cited
Curtis, Vincent J. “The JTF2 heard you, Scott.” Esprit de Corps, Aug. 2017, p. 28+. General
OneFile, Web. 25 Jan. 2018.
Farrell, Scott. “Semper Fidelis.” Guns Magazine, June 1999, p. 89. General OneFile, Web. 25
Jan. 2018.
Flores, John. “Modern American Heroes.”
legendary-sniper-carlos-hathcock/. 23 July 2013, Web. 7 February 2018.
Hillstrom, Kevin. Vietnam War Primary Sources. Detroit: UXL, 2001. Print.

Scarlata, Paul. “Simo Haya–‘Belaya Smert’: History’s Greatest Sniper!” Firearms News
1 Jan. 2018, p. 34+. Web. General OneFile 25 Jan. 2018.