ANTS CRAWLED UP HIS PANTS. HIS CAMOUFLAGED SHIRT WAS soaked in sweat. He had not moved his legs since crawling into the grove of trees three hours before. He had wet his pants. But Carlos Hathcock was oblivious; he was in his "bubble," concentrating on the hunt.
No one had told Hathcock to be in the jungle outside Chu Lai -- he was a military policeman with the day off. But Hathcock had no intention of spending his first tour in Vietnam guarding military bases and breaking up nightclub brawls. He had asked permission to "go hunting" by himself, an unusual and dangerous thing to do, but permitted by the Marines in early 1966.
Instinctively, Hathcock sniffed the breeze and listened for any unusual sounds -- a rustling in the foliage, an alarmed bird's shriek -- as he scanned the clearing in front with binoculars. Another hour passed before Hathcock spotted a hamburger -- his name for a Vietcong -- wearing black, carrying an automatic rifle and moving cat-like along a line of trees across the clearing. Within seconds, another Vietcong appeared, and still more -- five, maybe six -- all hiding near the trees or by a small bank of dirt. A Marine patrol was due in the area that night; the signs of an ambush were unmistakable.
Peering through his binoculars, Hathcock inspected each potential target. He was looking for a pistol -- an officer would be wearing a pistol -- but saw none. Then one of the Vietnamese pointed and two men obeyed him, scrambling to where he directed them. Hathcock lowered the binoculars, shouldered his M-14 rifle and began to calculate the probable effect of the breeze and heat on a bullet that would have to travel the equivalent of seven football fields to its target. He worked quickly, but was unhurried. The shot had to be perfect. Hathcock adjusted the rifle's hindsight and then aligned the sight on the tip of the barrel, which looked like an upside-down T, on the Vietcong officer -- a mere stick figure to Hathcock's naked eye.
The Vietcong doubled over before the sound of the rifle shot reached his ears. Hathcock's slug had hit him in the stomach -- a "gut shot." Hathcock was pleased; the officer wouldn't die instantly, and his agony might draw one of his men out of hiding and give Hathcock another target. Sure enough, after several minutes, one of the men began inching from the safety of the trees toward the wounded officer. Hathcock squeezed the trigger again, and the second target jerked from the impact of the slug.
AK-47 rifle fire sprayed the clearing for nearly 15 minutes, but the randomness of the firing convinced Hathcock that he was still safe. After the shooting had stopped for a while, a third Vietcong left the tree line, creeping toward his two motionless comrades. Hathcock raised his rifle again and fired. His target fell to his knees, clutching his chest, and then toppled onto his face. The AK-47s erupted again as Hathcock picked up his three spent shell casings and slowly eased himself from his sniper's perch. Three kills and a potential ambush aborted: It had been a good day. Later, a Marine patrol would find the three dead Vietcong where Hathcock had shot them. The Marines recognized Hathcock's trademark: one shot, one kill. CARLOS NORMAN HATHCOCK II SINGLE-HANDEDLY KILLED 93 enemy soldiers in Vietnam. No sniper killed more. And those were only the confirmed kills, those verified by others. Among Marines, Hathcock's exploits in Vietnam are legendary: He shot an enemy soldier who was more than one-and-a-half miles away and couldn't even be seen by the naked eye; he crept deep into areas controlled by the Vietcong and killed high-ranking enemy officers; he and another sniper under his charge pinned down 200 North Vietnamese Army regulars for three days in a rice paddy.
During two tours in Vietnam, Hathcock never willingly took a day off to rest. He volunteered for so many missions that a commanding officer once restricted him to quarters. At the time, the 5-feet-10 Hathcock weighed only 120 pounds.
"There is no question in my mind that Carlos Hathcock is the best sniper that I have ever known and he also is the best sniper that I have ever heard of," recalls retired Maj. Jim Land, who organized the Marine Corps sniper program in Vietnam in 1966.
Despite his exploits, Hathcock has never been recognized as a hero. In an age when Oliver North and Sylvester Stallone stir the patriotic juices of many Americans, Carlos Hathcock remains virtually unknown to all but his neighbors and family. Even the Marine Corps gave him no medals of note. And it discharged him without fanfare after doctors discovered he had multiple sclerosis, an incurable degenerative nerve disease. He was left devastated and embittered. Was this any way for his country to treat him after he had risked his life repeatedly?
Lone riflemen -- from Kentucky and Pennsylvania sharpshooters who used smoothbore muskets to pick off British officers during the Revolution to Indian fighters of the frontier -- have always inspired ambivalent feelings. On one hand, as Col. Brooke Nihart, deputy director of the Marine Corps Museum, explains: "The sniper always has been an almost mystical figure -- a loner, the best shot in the outfit, an expert at fieldcraft and stalking the enemy." There is a certain purity to it as well. He kills only the enemy -- no napalm needlessly splashed on innocent children, no bombs dropped on hospitals.
On the other hand, the coldbloodedness, the unequivocal nature of looking through a sight at a face and slowly, calmly squeezing the trigger, is disturbing -- no warning, no rationalizations about firing only in self-defense, no avoiding the certain knowledge of having taken another life. It's an affront to the Gary Cooper mentality, the idea that in "High Noon" -- or America -- the sheriff never draws first. Even for Marines, sniping was difficult to accept. Hathcock, who had done everything asked of him and more, felt unfairly stigmatized. "I was simply doing my job," he says. "I was just doing what they told me to do.
"Maybe being a sniper is something that only another sniper really can understand. Maybe I am wrong to try to explain it. Even some of my fellow Marines didn't understand. They called us Murder Inc., and they called me an assassin. Major Land said most people wouldn't understand. Snipers always are the bad guys. Better just to keep quiet. Land told us in Vietnam what to say: 'Just tell them that you are doing your job and then shut up.' "
Was he a coldblooded killer?
"I did not enjoy the killing," he says. "A person would have to be crazy to enjoy killing another human being."
But there was an excitement. "It was the stalk that I enjoyed. Pitting yourself against another human being. There was no second place in Vietnam -- second place was a body bag. Everyone was scared and them who claim they weren't are liars. But you can let that work for you. It makes you more alert, keener, and that's how it got for me. It made me be the best."
After the war, a friend showed Hathcock a passage written by Hemingway: "Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and like it, never really care for anything else thereafter." Hathcock copied Hemingway's words on a piece of paper. "He got that right," Hathcock says. "It was the hunt, not the killing."
But was it? Really? Would Hathcock have hidden in the jungle all day, broiling in the sun and wetting his pants, if he had been shooting a 35-millimeter camera instead of his rifle?
For a long time, Hathcock sits silent, and then he says slowly: "I did enjoy it once. And it scared me. Bad."
In late 1966, Hathcock and Land were dispatched from division headquarters in Da Nang to Hill 55 outside Duc Pho to hunt down and kill a woman sniper known as Apache. The woman had become notorious among Marines, and shortly after the two men arrived they saw why. Apache had captured a young Marine during an ambush, and one night she began torturing him. All that evening, the Marines on Hill 55 could hear their comrade's screams. The next morning, the young Marine staggered toward the camp. He was bleeding, much of his skin had been cut away, he had been castrated, and his arms were hanging limp, their bones broken and exposed. Hathcock ran toward the Marine who collapsed dead a few feet in front of him.
"We wanted Apache bad," Hathcock remembers. She became an obsession. "We stalked her just like an animal," says Land. Each morning, the snipers searched, and for weeks they returned without sighting Apache. Then, late one afternoon, Land spotted a Vietnamese woman who fit Apache's description. He pointed her out to Hathcock. She was a small woman traveling up a small rise with a group of men. All of them were armed, and Hathcock noticed that the woman was carrying a rifle with a scope. When she reached the top of the small rise, Hathcock fired. The woman collapsed. "Put another one in her|" Land ordered. Hathcock fired again, and the body jerked. Land and Hathcock stared at each other and then they began laughing and hugging each other. "I had tears in my eyes," says Hathcock. "I enjoyed that kill." RAISED IN RURAL ARKANSAS WHERE HE TAUGHT HIMSELF TO
hunt in the woods as a boy, Hathcock came from the traditional American frontier mold. The war required just the shooting and woodcraft skills that Hathcock possessed. There were times, in fact, when Hathcock wondered if he wasn't born for one purpose: to fight in Vietnam. "Vietnam," says Hathcock, "was just right for me."
Carlos Hathcock knew where the rabbits and squirrels ran. "As a young'n, I'd go out and sit in the woods and wait a spell," he recalls. "I'd just wait for the rabbits and squirrels 'cause I knew sooner or later a squirrel would be in that very tree or a rabbit would be coming by that very log. I just knew it. Don't know why, just did."
Hathcock grew up outside Little Rock, raised by his grandparents after his father, a welder for the railroad, and his mother divorced. By age 10, he was "bringing meat home to the table" regularly -- game that more often was the entire meal, not merely a supplement.
As soon as he turned 17 in 1959, Hathcock joined the Marines. He had wanted to enlist since he was 8, when he saw a young Marine in uniform. There was just something about that uniform and the disciplined man who was wearing it. A strength. A quality. The Corps was a good place for a poor boy who had not finished high school to better himself.
It didn't take Hathcock long to make a mark. Although he had never fired a high-powered rifle, he qualified immediately at boot camp as an "expert shot," the highest rating that he could earn. Still, it was a trying time. Hathcock wasn't used to the city-quick tempo of his officers. He was quiet and shy. But his shooting skills would give him access to choice assignments and a new-found confidence.
Soon, Hathcock was sent to Hawaii, where he first became "high shooter" of his company, then of the battalion, then of the regiment and finally of the entire island. He also was busted in rank twice: once for getting into a fight with an officer, another time for returning late after a leave. His shooting skills saved him from being booted out.
In 1961, Hathcock, then 19, was assigned to the Marine base at Cherry Point, N.C., home of the Corps' second-best rifle team. There he met Josephine Winstead, a local bank teller, on a blind date. She remembers him as a brash, fun-loving Marine who appeared for their first date dressed in black sharkskin pants and a pearl-button cowboy shirt. They were married in 1962, on November 10, a date chosen by Hathcock because it is the Marine Corps' birthday. "I wanted a date that I would remember," he says. That year, the Marine shooting team at Cherry Point nearly defeated the Corps' premier rifle team from Quantico. A few days after the match, Hathcock received orders to report to Quantico.
Three years later, Hathcock won what was then the most prestigious shooting award in the United States, the Wimbledon Cup, awarded to the winner of the 1,000-yard shooting championship. At that distance, a bullet reaches the height of a three-story building during its trajectory, and the center of the target is impossible to see from the firing line without a high-powered scope.
In the finals, Hathcock's two competitors fired their shots during the first 15 seconds of the three-minute shooting period. Hathcock waited. One minute passed and then another. Fifteen seconds before the deadline, as a brisk wind finally eased, Hathcock fired his three shots and won.
"Shooting is 90 percent mental," says Maj. Land, who watched Hathcock win. "It's the ability to control your mind, your heartbeat, your breathing. I first noticed that Carlos was special at the championships. There were thousands of people watching, a band and television cameras, yet it didn't seem to bother him at all."
Hathcock was in his "bubble" -- the same bubble he put himself into as a child in the woods and later in Vietnam. "I was able to shut out every sight, feeling, everything, and simply concentrate on my shooting." Overnight, Hathcock became a national celebrity among shooters. A few weeks later, in March 1966, he was sent to Vietnam.
The thing that surprised Carlos Hathcock about killing a human being was how easy it was and how similar it was to shooting any other animal. "They would roll in a ball and flip-floppy on the ground," he remembers, "just like a rabbit."
His first kill came in 1966. When he first arrived in Vietnam, Hathcock had a relatively safe job as a military policeman. (There was no organized sniper program at the time.) But he wanted more. He volunteered for regular reconnaissance patrols but felt uneasy among Marines who were not as familiar with the outdoors. He wanted to hunt on his own. At first, his fellow Marines questioned his usefulness as a lone sniper, but in six months Hathcock had 14 verified enemy kills. At about the same time, the Marine Corps sent Land to Vietnam to organize and train snipers: "The first thing I did was call Carlos Hathcock."
"Some guys wanted to kill -- anyone," Hathcock says. One day, while training two Marines he noticed "this fella was getting awfully quiet. Now, there was three farmers out in this field, and this guy had aimed in on one of them and was getting ready to plug him when I put my hand down in front of his scope so he couldn't see nothing. I'd have charged him with murder if he'd shot that farmer." AFTER HATHCOCK'S SATISFYING ASSASSINATION OF APACHE, the Vietcong placed a $30,000 bounty on his head. The bounty worried Hathcock. He and a young sniper, John R. Burke, formed a team and began spending all of their time in the jungle away from camp, where hundreds of Vietnamese of dubious allegiance worked. "Sometimes days would go by before I suddenly realized me and Burke hadn't said nothing to each other," recalls Hathcock. "But old Burke seemed to know what I was thinking and I knew what he was thinking. I'd just look one way and he'd understand."
The time in the jungle took its toll. Once, Hathcock returned to his base camp for supplies. He headed for the mess hall, "dying to get me some milk." Two guards stopped him from entering because he was armed: two ammunition belts strapped to his chest, several grenades on a belt, his sniper rifle, an M-14, two .45-caliber pistols, a survival knife and a Ka-Bar knife. He was hot, dirty and in no mood to argue. After a 15-minute standoff, during which the base commander was called, Hathcock agreed to a compromise. He left his rifles, ammunition and grenades with the guards, but he kept his pistols and knives. When he entered the cafeteria, the men inside applauded.
The incident was typical of Hathcock's time in Vietnam. He refused all of the recreational leaves that he earned; he never took time off for relaxation or sightseeing. He was there to do a job, that's all.
Two weeks before his first 13-month tour ended in 1967, Hathcock was asked to shoot a Vietcong general behind enemy lines, considered a suicide mission. With 85 recorded kills, Hathcock had nothing to prove. Back home, his wife and his son, Carlos Norman III, were waiting. "I didn't want to die," Hathcock recalls, "but I didn't think I would, 'cause I didn't think any of those hamburgers was smart enough to kill me. I was too smart for them." Hathcock was also worried that Burke would be asked to kill the general if he didn't take on the challenge.
Hathcock wrote a goodbye letter to his wife, to be delivered if he didn't return, and boarded a helicopter. He took his knife, his sniper rifle, 80 rounds of ammunition (his lucky number), a canteen and some peanut butter and crackers. The Vietcong general was headquartered in a rubber plantation deep in the jungle. The biggest problem was getting within 800 yards for a clear shot. The most logical spot to approach from was the jungle, because of its cover, but Hathcock opted for the unexpected -- an open field some 2,000 yards wide on the other side of the headquarters.
Hathcock was dropped off at night several miles away. He reached the open field by late afternoon, applied camouflage and began crawling "worm style" on his side through the tall grass. He had covered 30 feet in two hours when he heard the voices of several Vietcong behind him. "I figured I was a dead man," Hathcock remembers. The soldiers came within 20 feet, but didn't see him.
By the next morning, covered with insects and with no feeling on one side, he continued his torturous journey. On the morning of the third day, Hathcock came face to face with a jade-colored snake, which he now believes was a deadly bamboo viper. To make matters worse, another Vietcong patrol was approaching. He froze. The patrol passed and, 30 minutes later, the snake retreated. Hathcock, exhausted and mentally drained, crawled into a small gully near the edge of the clearing and consumed his crackers and peanut butter, the first food he had eaten in three days. The next morning, Hathcock crawled under several bushes on a small mound filled with insects, the best cover available. He spotted the Vietcong general at mid-morning walking toward a waiting Citroen. "I was just fixing to squeeze my trigger when an aide got in the way," says Hathcock. "When that aide moved, the general didn't go no place." Hathcock headed back for the clearing. "Those hamburgers figured I was hiding in the jungle and ran that way."
Hathcock, finally burned out, was discharged. After one week back home in Cherry Point working as an electrician's apprentice, he reenlisted. "I wasn't trained to do nothing else. I was a Marine." He was assigned to the rifle team at Quantico and once again began winning matches. He was happy, but it didn't last. Under the Corps' rotation system, he was sent back to Vietnam in 1969.
It was a different world. His shooting partner, John Burke, had been killed in action. Land had been sent back to the United States. Even the enemy had changed; the poorly trained and ill-equipped Vietcong had been succeeded by the North Vietnamese Army. But Hathcock's exploits during his first tour were still legendary, and he was offered his choice of sniper commands. He picked the 23-member squad at Hill 55, his old base.
"These guys were completely without discipline when I got there," he says. "They were wearing different berets and had junk all over their dog tags. They were emptying latrines and unloading supplies instead of going out sniping."
To the surprise of his troops, the lone wolf turned out to be a stickler for rules. He burned their berets, demanded that they wear combat dress and began putting them through training exercises. Within a month, Hathcock's snipers were leading all other Marine Corps sniper squads in reported kills. "I never asked them to do anything that I didn't do," he says.
Hathcock's luck, however, was running low. A bullet through the left leg while he was riding on a helicopter was the first of seven wounds he would receive. He refused medical attention until the next day when he was unable to move the leg: "I didn't want to admit that the enemy could hurt me."
In September 1969, Hathcock was injured while riding in an amphibious tractor that ran over a 500-pound land mine. Knocked unconscious by the blast, he awoke to find himself enveloped by fire. Witnesses reported that he carried seven Marines off the burning vehicle before collapsing in a rice paddy, his own clothing on fire. Evacuated to a military hospital in Texas where he was treated for burns on 43 percent of his body, Hathcock didn't realize he had returned to the United States. "He would yell out Burke's name," recalls his wife Josephine. " 'Don't go in there Burke, stay down|' he'd yell. Then, he'd want to know where his gun was and his hat." Josephine, who had written to her husband every day while he was in Vietnam, stayed by his side day and night.
"I remember Jo being next to me," says Hathcock, his voice choking with emotion, "and then the next thing I remember, I was up there." Hathcock points toward the ceiling. "We don't talk about it, but I was up someplace looking down and I could see everything. I could see myself in bed and my burns and Jo sitting there next to me, but I couldn't hear her, and then I saw her look at me and jump up and start yelling for the doctors and I saw them come in and begin working on me. Everything was antiseptic white. There was no color and I remember, as clear as if it happened yesterday, I remember thinking I had a choice -- I could go back or I could just keep on going, and I
decided to go back and then I could hear Jo and she was
screaming my name and I could feel the pain again from my burns and I wasn't up there anymore."
When Hathcock left the hospital in December 1969, the Marines tried for the first time to retire him. Only 27, he walked with a limp and had little use of his right arm. Still, friends were able to pull strings to keep him in the Marines. He was assigned to Quantico but found that he could no longer shoot. "I had lost it," he says. "My mind kept saying I was as good as I ever was, but my body wasn't saying the same thing."
Hathcock eventually was sent to Rota, Spain, as a gunnery sergeant on the USS Simon Lake, a submarine tender. His first commanding officer overlooked his physical problems, but in 1975, Hathcock got a new boss who was shocked to discover that the ship's gunnery sergeant couldn't move between decks without help. He was evacuated to a U.S. hospital where doctors discovered he had multiple sclerosis. Once again, Hathcock called his friends. This time, he was sent to Quantico to help set up a permanent training school for Marine snipers. "It was my dream," says Hathcock. Despite his physical problems, he "was the first one at the school in the mornings and the last to leave at night," recalls Land. "The idiot just couldn't let up. He was literally killing himself."
But "Gunny" Hathcock was having trouble living up to his own legend. He had to be the best at everything, the smartest, the surest, the harshest. He began pushing his sniper students too hard, exploding in anger at their smallest errors. After work, in pain, he began drinking heavily. In April 1979, he collapsed while teaching at the rifle range. When he awoke in an emergency room, Hathcock discovered that he couldn't move his left foot and was losing feeling in both arms. He was forced to retire. He had served 19 years, 10 months and five days and was bitterly disappointed that he hadn't made 20 years, the goal he had set as a teen-ager.
Hathcock retired to a Virginia Beach home that had been owned by his wife's sister. He received $610 per month in disability pay and his wife began collecting grocery store coupons. Only 37, and classified by the government as completely disabled, he went into a deep depression, withdrawing from his Marine pals, his wife and his son. "I felt the Marine Corps had thrown me on the trash heap," he says. He would sit in his favorite room, rum and Coke in hand, and relive Vietnam.
Then one afternoon, Hathcock wandered into the Bait Barn, a local bait shop operated by Steve McCarver. "Gunny had a coughing attack when he walked in," recalls McCarver. "He started choking and I thought he was going to die right there." McCarver befriended Hathcock and eventually began asking him to help around the shop. Hathcock enjoyed the work, but wore out easily. "I was getting tired of Gunny complaining and acting so defeated," recalls McCarver, "so one day I said to him, 'Hey, if you want to stay home, fine, but if you are going to help me, then get busy, because I'm either going to kill you or cure you.' "
"I owe a lot to Steve," Hathcock says. "He pulled me out of it. I stopped feeling sorry for myself."
The Corps, Hathcock decided, never deserted him. It was he who had deserted the Marines. He had failed the Corps because he was no longer physically able to meet its high standards. It had no choice but to oust him. "None but the very best in the Marines|" Hathcock says, beaming. HATHCOCK STANDS ERECT OUTSIDE THE ABANDONED HOUSE in the afternoon heat, scanning the tall grass, abandoned refrigerators and deserted homes around him in one of Norfolk's poorest neighborhoods. He is looking for approaching snipers. He knows the snipers -- four Norfolk policemen -- are watching him. He peers through his binoculars. Where are they hiding? His back aches and his legs are numb, the girdle wrapped around his waist is cutting into his skin. Scar tissue from his burns has destroyed his ability to sweat. He is becoming overheated, but he doesn't move. He stands erect, looking for "his" boys.
A few months earlier, a member of the Norfolk Police Department's Emergency Response Team, after reading about Hathcock's exploits in a local newspaper, asked him to teach sniper techniques to an elite, four-member rescue squad. Hathcock accepted the job without pay.
"This has given Carlos a real boost," Josephine says. Twice a week, Hathcock instructs the two-man squads. This afternoon is typical. After calisthenics and a four-mile run in 90-degree temperatures, the policemen dress in heavy camouflage and spend four hours creeping through tall grass toward the abandoned house. Inside, Norfolk training officer Frank L. Welch periodically walks in front of broken windows, carrying life-sized cardboard figures. Two of the cardboard figures, a pug-faced scowling man and a pock-marked busty woman, are armed bad guys. There are other cut-out figures -- a television reporter, a hostage in a brown suit and a woman carrying groceries. A police sniper would have to determine how many persons are in the house and which are targets.
Communicating by radio, the sniper teams describe to each other what they have seen. One team has crawled into heavy foliage at the back of the house, the other has hidden in front of the house in an abandoned building. "White man, green suit, front door, no weapons at this time," one team explains.
"The hostage negotiator inside the house has just been killed," Welch suddenly announces. "Fire simultaneously on three."
Welch counts slowly. "One . . . Two . . . Three . . ." The two shots, one from behind the building, the other from in front, sound like one. Both hit the cardboard criminals in their
"Fire a second round on three," Welch says.
"One . . . Two . . ." Welch breaks his cadence. "Cease fire." Neither group has fired.
Hathcock grins. "Good golly," he gushes. "That's good control."
"Come on in," Welch says.
A few minutes later, one of the patrolmen on the teams turns to Welch and asks, "Did the Gunny see us? Did he know where we were hiding?"
"We would do just about anything for the Gunny," Welch says later. "It's one thing to talk about training, but he really knows it. This guy has killed 93 people. It's hard to believe. Damn|" HATHCOCK IS SITTING IN AN EASY CHAIR IN HIS FAVORITE
room, the "bunker," surrounded by combat memorabilia -- high-powered rifles, two Marine Corps posters of evil-looking snipers, shiny trophies and medals. Here, with his memories, he is comfortable.
"Them is good boys," he says of the policemen. "Good boys, but I'll never tell them that, not in a cat's hair, because they will stop getting better. There are fewer and fewer people who know how to handle themselves in the woods. Pavement pounders and sidewalk walkers is what you get now."
Has anyone ever suggested that killing 93 people might be immoral?
"Not to my face," he says quickly, a bit irritated. "I haven't got the slightest idea whether it was, because I've never really delved into that. Look, my aunt and uncle and grandmother, they are all really religious people, and they have never said nothing to me about it. Thinking about that would drive a man crazy. It's better not to think about it, really."
Does he ever think about the people he killed?
"No, why should I?" he says. "Look, they were targets. That's all. It was war. Kill or be killed."
He never thinks about any of them?
"I guess I have sometimes, certain ones. I mean, when you kill an estimated 12-year-old kid who is the enemy and carrying weapons, it gives you pause. It's hard to draw it out of your mind, but you have to."
Is he afraid of dying?
"Heavens, no. We are born to die."
Did he want to die in Vietnam?
"Heaven forbid, no| I had a lot of fish to catch, I had a wonderful wife that I wanted to come back to . . . Ain't no way I had a death wish. Huh. That's fascinating, though. Death wish. Well, I can see where someone might think that, but no. It doesn't
Does he have nightmares?
"Not much anymore, but I sleep alone now, have since '69. At night, if there is a storm, it's not safe to be around me if I wake up. No sirree|
"There was just one bad one, though -- the Marine."
The Marine that Apache tortured and killed?
"I'd see him coming toward me, but it was different sometimes."
"Just different." Hathcock pauses. "He was me." :: Pete Earley is on leave from The Magazine to write a book on the Walker family spy case. It is to be published this coming fall by Bantam Books.