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“DANIEL BOONE” GOES TO VIETNAM

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WHACKED FROM THE TOP OF A COCONUT TREE

Though relatively unknown, the most highly decorated and most accomplished American sniper of the Vietnam War was Staff Sergeant Adelbert F. Waldron of the U.S. Army’s 9th Infantry Division.

 

In addition to being credited with 109 enemy kills—the highest count for any American sniper in any war—Staff Sergeant Waldron also was twice awarded the Distinguished Service Cross—second only to the Medal of Honor, plus the Silver Star, several Bronze Stars, and the Purple Heart.

 

Nicknamed “Daniel Boone” by his fellow snipers to recognize his great fieldcraft, Waldron also was a phenomenal shot, achieving incredible long-distance hits. Lieutenant General Julian J. Ewell, Waldron’s 9th Infantry Division commander, recalled:

 

“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 900meters away, SergeantWaldron took up his sniper rifle and picked off the Viet Cong from the top of a coconut tree with one shot (this from a moving platform). Such was the capability of our best sniper.”

 

THE DARKNESS IN THE MEKONG DELTA BELONGS TO WALDRON

The terrain in Waldron’s area of operations especially suited sniping, with the Mekong Delta’s rice paddies stretching for hundreds, even thousands, of yards, an ideal setting for long-range spotting and shooting. Equally, though, it was Waldron’s exploitation of the night—employing an AN/PVS-2 night vision device and a Sionics suppressor on his M21 Sniper System—that contributed to his great effectiveness. Many GIs in Vietnam thought the night belonged to the enemy, but in the Mekong Delta darkness belonged to “Bert” Waldron. On the night of 3 February 1969, for instance, a staff journal noted:

 

“[F]ive Viet Cong moved from the woodline to the edge of the rice paddy and the first Viet Cong in the group was taken under fire . . . resulting in one Viet Cong killed. Immediately the other Viet Cong formed a huddle around the fallen body, apparently not quite sure what had taken place. Sergeant Waldron continued engaging the Viet Cong one by one until a total of five Viet Cong were killed.”

 

SEVEN ROUNDS, SEVEN KILLS

Time and again, he intercepted Viet Cong in the dead of night, engaging small patrols and single Viet Cong who’d mistakenly thought they could not be seen. On the night of 25 January 1969, Waldron shot seven enemy soldiers at an average distance of 350meters—firing only seven rounds. In the darkness of 22 January 1969, he was credited with another 11 kills. On 4 February 1969 he killed another nine enemy, again using a Starlight scope and suppressed XM-21.Waldron was a graduate of the 9th Division’s first sniper class, and General Ewell thought him the division’s finest sniper.

 

A private man, Waldron quietly retired from the Army and, to the best of my knowledge, has never spoken publicly about his wartime service.

 

To order a copy of The History of Sniping and Sharpshooting by Major John L. Plaster, USAR (Ret.) contact Paladin Press www.paladin-press.com

 

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