The Bronze Star Medal, unofficially the Bronze Star, is a United States decoration awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces for either heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone.
Chuck Mawhinney, the son of a World War II Marine Corps veteran, was an avid hunter in his youth. Chuck Mawhinney joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1967, spending sixteen months in Vietnam starting in 1968. Although less well known than his more famous counterpart, fellow Marine sniper and legend Carlos Hathcock, Chuck Mawhinney currently holds the record for confirmed kills for Marine snipers, with 103. A US Army sergeant, Adelbert Waldron, holds the record for most confirmed kills by any American sniper at 109. He had another 216 that are listed as "probable" kills by the U.S. Marine Corps.
Chuck Mawhinney left the Marine Corps in 1970. He slipped into obscurity, and went without notice for his number of confirmed kills for more than two decades, which was his preference. He returned home to Oregon, married, and began working for the U.S. Forest Service, where he worked until his retirement in the late 1990s.
Chuck Mawhinney never spoke of his exploits as a sniper, and found himself exposed unwittingly in a book titled Dear Mom: A sniper's Vietnam, written by fellow Marine sniper and author Joseph T. Ward. After the book recognized him as having 101 confirmed kills, many disputed the claim. However, research revealed that Chuck Mawhinney actually had 103 confirmed kills and 216 "probable kills", which led to his replacing Carlos Hathcock II, who had 93 confirmed kills, as the leading USMC sniper of all time.
After this, Chuck Mawhinney slowly came into the limelight. Following his retirement from the Forest Service, he began speaking at conventions and public events, as well as attending national sniper shooting competitions. As of 2006, Chuck Mawhinney continues to speak to classes of professional snipers in training. Chuck Mawhinney's rifle is on display in the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Mawhinney's rifle below that he used during his service in Vietnam is now on display in the Vietnam Gallery of the National Museum of the Marine Corps.