Combat Experience with the .45 ACP

Oft times, comments on this net are about GySgt. Carlos Hathcock’s sniping adventures in Vietnam. Here’s one that very few know about, but is probably just as good as far as accuracy during combat is concerned.

A Navy SEAL Team was returning from a mission over North Vietnam in a chopper when it got hit pretty bad. The pilot and one crew member were killed and the copilot was wounded. Going into autorotation, the copilot managed to set the chopper down in a clearing. After landing, a few rounds of enemy fire were starting to come in. Seems the M60s were also damaged beyond use by the crash landing and initial RPG hit, the only M16 fell out on the way down.

The only firearms left was M1911s.The remaining crew member was carrying a match conditioned M1911 and had a few boxes of ammo. As more enemy small arms fire started coming in, the copilot and crew member also noted that the VC were coming out of the jungle and approaching them; shooting as they came. The crew member took out his .45 and took careful aim as he shot at each attacking VC. About 30 minutes later it was all over. Between reloading magazines and radioing for rescue, the copilot was pretty busy, but a rescue chopper finally arrived on the scene.

As the rescue chopper came in and landed, its crew noticed a lot of dead VC laying around. The downed helo’s remaining crew were picked up and on their way out, they counted the dead VC; 37 in all. Their distances from the downed helo were from 3 to about 150 yards; all shot by the crew member with his M1911 .45 ACP. About 80 rounds were fired by Petty Officer R.J. Thomas, a member of the USN Rifle and Pistol Team.

Petty Officer Thomas was recommended for the Congressional Medal of Honor, but by the time the recommendation got all the way up through the chain of command, the recognition was reduced to the Navy Cross.

This incident has been cited this as the only known of example of top-level combat marksmanship since SGT Alvin York’s escapades in WWI.

Submitted by Mark Eberhard-CEO & President
LtCol. USMCR (Ret.)
American Marksman Group
(850) 626-9963
Visit: www.americanmarksman.com

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