Charles William Henderson was born on August 26, 1948, in Artesia, New Mexico. After graduating from Artesia High School in 1966, he worked as a newspaper reporter and sports editor for the Artesia Daily Press before joining the United States Marine Corp in 1970. In over twenty-three years of active duty in the Marines, Chief Warrant Officer Henderson served combat duty in Vietnam and Lebanon where he earned numerous decorations including the Combat Action Ribbon and the Meritorious Service Ribbon. His military training includes combat tactics, leadership, sniping, reconnaissance, marksmanship, instruction of marksmanship, special operations, anti-terrorism, counter-terrorism, infantry skills, and many others. Since retiring from the Marines in 1993, he has written four more military-based books while working as a free-lance journalist. Charles Henderson now lives in Peyton, Colorado, where he raises and breeds horses while continuing to write.
Charles Henderson’s Marine Sniper is the true story of Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock’s experiences as a sniper during the Vietnam War. The author writes of the importance of snipers in the military and how drastically they helped the war effort in the jungles of Vietnam. The thick terrain of the region was a large part of our snipers success during the war, offering cover that only small groups could maneuver through without attracting attention. This book portrays sniping as a complicated tool that can be extremely useful in warfare if it is used correctly. Many people, including a number of soldiers in the military, considered sniping a cowardly fighting tactic because of the long distance between the sniper and his target. Sergeant Hathcock helped change this negative view of sniping because of his professionalism and many accomplishments on the battlefield. Henderson continues Hathcock’s work by using this book as a catalyst to promote sniping and illustrate to people that you must have an enormous amount of courage, self-discipline, and stamina to be a successful sniper.
The difficulty and importance of sniping is shown in many occasions throughout the book. In one of these instances, only two men, Sergeant Hathcock and his spotter Corporal Burke, trapped and held over one hundred and fifty Vietnamese soldiers in a ditch for two full days before additional support could arrive and bomb the stronghold. This demonstrates what a valuable asset Sergeant Hathcock was during the war, in addition to how detrimental a properly trained sniper can be to the enemy. Henderson constantly shows how sniping saves American lives by killing key leaders of the Vietnamese in order to confuse enemy troops and increase the likelihood of tactical errors. He also explains how sending a sole sniper behind enemy lines allows for important information on enemy movements to be retrieved without detection, as well as presenting the possibility of vital kills if the opportunity presents itself. Furthermore, the enemy’s moral is often affected by the simple fact that there is a sniper somewhere out there. Overall, the book provides a unique perspective on the benefits snipers bring to our military.
Marine Sniper is a very interesting book written in an intriguing and unusual way. I have always been interested in snipers and this book taught me a lot that I did not know about their craft. Even though Charles Henderson used a lot of military terminology, I felt that he explained it very well by defining these terms in the margin or in the context of the sentence. He is extremely detailed in his description of a scene and the distinct personalities of the different characters. That being said, I did not like how he flashed back to the past on such a regular basis. It seemed that every other chapter was a flashback of a previous experience and it simply became confusing. I think that the book would have been much easier to interpret and understand if it had been in written chronological order. This account of one sniper’s experiences in Vietnam was a fascinating and entertaining read that I would not hesitate to recommend to others interested in special military operations.