The Distinguished Service Cross is the second highest military award that can be given to a member of the United States Army (and previously, the United States Army Air Forces and the United States Air Force), for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force. Actions that merit the Distinguished Service Cross must be of such a high degree that they are above those required for all other U.S. combat decorations but do not meet the criteria for the Medal of Honor. The Distinguished Service Cross is equivalent to the Navy Cross (Navy and Marine Corps), the Air Force Cross (Air Force), and the Coast Guard Cross (Coast Guard).
Adelbert F. Waldron was born March 14, 1933 in Syracuse New York. He joined the US Navy in 1953 and left that branch after successful service as an E-5 (GMG2) in 1965.
Adelbert F. Waldron enlisted in the US Army in May 1968 as a Sergeant, the equivalent rank he held in the Navy. He found himself attached to Company B, 3d Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment (Scouts Out!) of the 9th Infantry Division in South Vietnam the same year.
An expert marksman with a rifle, he was chosen to attend the 9th Infantry's in-country sniper school run by members of the Army Marksmanship Unit and was formed with the blessing of the division commander Lt Gen Julian J. Ewell. The 9th Infantry was the only major U.S. Army combat unit to conduct operations in theMekong Delta where it was part of the Mobile Riverine Force (MRF).
Riding shotgun on US Navy brown water "Tango Boats" and PBRs the MRF attempted to clean out the multitude of insurgent units operating in that lawless area. In this high tempo hazardous environment Adelbert Waldron was placed as a sniper.
In the first half of 1969, 36-year old Sargent Adelbert Waldron was credited with 109 confirmed kills, making him the highest scoring US sniper in history. Unique among the highest scoring US snipers, who were all marines with bolt action rifles, Adelbert Waldron was a soldier with a semi-automatic weapon. He used an accurized M-14 rifle, known popularly as an M-21. The M-21 Adelbert Waldron used was a National Match quality weapon with a Leatherwood 3X-9X Adjustable Ranging Telescope (ART) and the standard leather M1907 sling. Rock Island Arsenal converted some 1,435 of these weapons for use as sniper weapons and sent them to Vietnam in 1969. From then on it was the primary Army sniper rifle until 1988. The M21 was accurate out to 800m and fired the M118 standard NATO 7.62mm round. Adelbert Waldron at times used an early Starlight night vision scope coupled with a suppressor and sniped targets in the middle of the night. On one such night he took no less than nine confirmed targets. He was also credited with making one of the most famous mythical shots in sniper lore.
From Lt Gen Ewell in the US Army's Center for Military History's archives "..., our most successful sniper was Sergeant Adelbert Waldron, III, who had 109 confirmed kills to his credit. One afternoon he was riding along the Mekong River on a Tango boat when an enemy sniper on shore pecked away at the boat. While everyone else on board strained to find the antagonist, who was firing from the shoreline over 900 meters away, Sergeant Adelbert Waldron took up his sniper rifle and picked off the Viet Cong out of the top of a coconut tree with one shot (this from a moving platform)."
Promoted to Staff Sargent Adelbert Waldron finished his tour in Vietnam with a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, a Presidential Unit Citation, and two Distinguished Service Crosses. He taught at the US Army Marksmanship Unit as a senior instructor before leaving army service in 1970. In later years he worked for firearms engineer and former CIA operative Mitchel WerBell III. Adelbert Waldron was WerBell’s resident firearms instructor in his private training schools at the “Farm” in Powder Springs GA. It was in that school the Adelbert Waldron's name became linked to such groups as Lyndon LaRouche’s NCLC. WerBell died in 1983 and Adelbert Waldron himself died in quiet obscurity on October 18, 1995 in California. Adelbert Waldron was 62 years old. Notably Adelbert Waldron did not publish a book or lecture as many other noted snipers of the 20th century have.