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13 CENT KILLERS: The 5th Marine Snipers in Vietnam, audio
by John. J. Culbertson
Random House Audio, March 2003
abridged audio pages
ISBN: 0739303910

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In 1966 snipers carried bolt rifles whose bullets cost 13 cents. As the book opens the author explains that following wars rumors start that elevate the level of sniper performance well beyond what really occurred. However, these men were the best marksmen in their regiment and the bravest; this duty was completely voluntary. They were so feared by the Viet Cong that there was a bounty on their heads.

In 1966 the Viet Cong had created a system for knocking out US patrols. As the Marines walked through the jungle the Cong would go to a pre-determined ambush with a three man sniper team. After scouting by the local villagers to indicate the path of an American patrol the 3 men would choose a kill site and pick off the radio man and the patrol leader in order to cause confusion and cut the men off from communication with rear command.

1966 was the year the Marine command realized they needed to form a crack sniper platoon to confront this menace, thus the 5th Marine Sniper Platoon. Surprisingly this is not a stagnant skill; as the snipers were put into action they learned almost as much on the job as in sniper school, often demonstrating where training should be updated and implementing changes in current strategy.

Mr. Culbertson, himself a recipient of three purple hearts, served in this unit from December 1966 to July 1967. He guides the reader through different patrols during this time frame. Meticulously the author describes the arms and tactics of both the enemy and the United States Marines. Culbertson describes the skilss and enemy engagements of several of these men.

L. J. Ganser was an excellent choice as narrator for this type of book. His speaking style presents just the amount of authority and seriousness to make the book enjoyable and believable. I found myself picturing him as an older commissioned officer relating the history of this particular piece of the Vietnam War. Although some might judge the use of snipers as a repugnant type of combat it is not. These men were brave, skilled, frequently wounded, and constantly in danger; the number of lives of fellow Marines saved was sizeable.

Reviewed by Martha Hopkins, April 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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