Military snipers were traditionally viewed with suspicion, even by their fellow soldiers and Marines. Only in the last two decades, experts say, have snipers’ reputations turned from reviled to heroic. A look at some of history’s notable snipers:
During the American Revolutionary War, a Scottish marksman named Patrick Ferguson spotted an American officer on horseback and reckoned he could shoot the man half a dozen times. He decided not to, he later said, because “it was not pleasant to fire at the back of an unoffending individual, who was acquitting himself very coolly of his duty.” That individual was George Washington, and Ferguson acknowledged that he did not regret letting the enemy commander get away.
Exceptional snipers count their victims in the hundreds. Häyhä, a Finnish World War II sniper whom the Red Army called the “White Death,” registered over 500, the most ever. In most wars, ordinary soldiers often kill no one at all, and in many cases never even fire their weapons.
The Navy SEAL’s 2012 memoir serves as the basis of the Oscar-nominated movie “American Sniper.” He is confirmed to have killed at least 160 enemy fighters, and wrote in his book that Iraqi insurgents had put a bounty on his head. He and a friend were killed in 2013 at a Texas gun range.