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Subject: Little known sniper
longrifle    2/10/2007 11:19:36 PM
Kind of vague about the details isn't it? Bert Waldron made 109 confirmed kills as a sniper in the Mekong Delta area.....in five months. WALDRON, ADELBERT F. (First Award) Sergeant, U.S. Army Company B, 3d Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division Date of Action: January 16 - February 4, 1969 Synopsis: The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Adelbert F. Waldron, Sergeant, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Company B, 3d Battalion, 60th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division. Sergeant Waldron distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions during the period 16 January 1969 to 4 February 1969. His extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army. HQ US Army, Vietnam, General Orders No. 1068 (1969) Other Award: Distinguished Service Cross w/OLC (Vietnam) WALDRON, ADELBERT F. (Second Award) Sergeant, U.S. Army Company B, 3d Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division Date of Action: February 5 - March 29, 1969 Synopsis: The Distinguished Service Cross (First Oak Leaf Cluster) is presented to Adelbert F. Waldron, Sergeant, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Company B, 3d Battalion, 60th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division. Sergeant Waldron distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions during the period 5 February 1969 to 29 March 1969. His extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army. HQ US Army, Vietnam, General Orders No. 2904 (1969) Other Award: Distinguished Service Cross (Vietnam)
 
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longrifle       3/3/2007 5:54:17 PM
A little more about the little known Bert Waldron, pieced together from different sources:

The 9th Division started training snipers in December of 1968.  The division started to withdraw from Vietnam in the summer of 1969.  That means Waldron made his 109 confirmed kills in about six months.  Michael Lee Lanning says in   "Inside the Crosshairs" that Waldron made 92 confirmed kills in the first five months of 9th Division sniper employment.

Waldron made 9 of his kills in one night from the same hide site. He was shooting a suppressed M-14 with a starlight scope at ranges averaging 400 meters, according to a 9th Divison after action report quoted in "Stalk and Kill" by Adrian Gilbert.

Some sources credit Waldron with 113 confirmed kills.  This appears to stem from an offhand quote from the sometimes famous, more often infamous, late Colonel Mitchell WerBell.  Waldron was Werbell's marksmanship instructor at the SIONICS mercenary training camp in Georgia in the 1970s.  The story  goes that WerBell knew that Waldron had something over 100 confirmed kills but not the exact number.  Werbell pulled 113 off the top of his head to sound good during an interview and that number is still quoted in some sources.  109 is the number seen in 9th Infantry Divison after action reports.

There was barracks rumor floating around Ft. Bragg in the 1980s that said Waldron was doing some time on a Federal firearms charge.  This may have stemmed from his employment with WerBell, who was frequently being investigated for one thng or another.  Unconfirmed, but not improbable given Wladron's association with WerBell.  If true, this may explain why he never became well known or wrote a book.

I got an email from one source that knew a little about Waldron.  The source said Waldron was pretty much estranged from most people when he died.  Bitterness from the way things turned out, prison etc.?  Again, unconfirmed, but not improbable.

Adelbert F. Waldron III is buried in the Riverside Cemetery in Riverside, California.  The listed dates are: B. March 14, 1933 - D. October 18, 1995.  That means Waldron was 36 years old during the peak of his combat effectiveness in early 1969.

 
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hkramer       12/10/2007 9:27:40 PM
 Waldron is, unfortunately a figment of the run-away imagination of Gen. Ewell and the good General?s desire to make his sniper school a huge success. I was the Honor Graduate of the second class??and to the best knowledge those associated w/the school will tell you that Waldron never graduated! He tried, but washed out. Talk was that he hung around and caught the eye of someone who hooked him up w/Ewell. I don?t want to speak ill of the man but facts are facts.

 Talk to most any instructor that was at the school about Waldron. They will give you the same answer.

 Where we were at targets for us were far and few between. Tet knocked the VC out of the game. You could get 109 kills if you shot everything that walked and talked that you saw, but real enemy, I don?t think so. And to pick off a target at 900 yards off the top of a moving tango boat. if you believe that on I have an small island in New York I?ll sell you.

 Truth is the guy never existed, in the form that he?s written about. It?s too bad he because the ?glory boy? for someone more interested in fiction than fact. Take it from someone who was there??.?never happened, GI?!

 
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longrifle       12/11/2007 10:47:30 PM
hkramer,

If you're who I think you are I've seen your website and I'm impressed with it.  Thank you for your service.  Your information about Waldron is disappointing but I'm for the truth whatever the truth is.

Evidently Waldron was employed as a 9th Division sniper whether he graduated from the school or not.  Are you able to say how much of his record is fabricated?  Was he being used to pad 9th Division body counts by shooting anything that moved after dark or something along those lines?

If I'm not mistaken the late Colonel Hackworth - another controversial figure, I know - talked about some snipers in his battalion having confirmed kills in the low double digits.  For instance, I think Ed Eaton was supposed to have had twentysomething confirmed.  Was that about average for most 9th Division snipers?

Again, thank you for your service.  I'm always happy to read anything about the 9th Division's sniper program, since so little has been written about 9th Division snipers compared to those in the Marine Corps.  Have you ever thought of doing a book?



 
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longrifle       12/11/2007 11:14:43 PM
hkramer,

Another question or two if you don't mind.  Sorry to bother you but I don't encounter a 9th Division sniper very often.

Did the 9th Division snipers ever work with the division's combat tracker teams?  Perhaps on blood trail follow up or something of that nature?

Did you, or any other 9th Division sniper that you know of, ever encounter or engage any NVA or VC snipers?  I mean soldiers that you would consider true, trained snipers, not a "four o'clock Charlie" popping off with some with harassing, intermittent rifle fire.

Thank you.

 
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echo239recon    9th Division Snipers   4/22/2009 12:46:46 PM
Regarding Bert Waldron, I have talked to some of the instructors and graduates of the 9th Infantry Division Sniper School and they have told me that Bert Waldron failed to complete that training, but was apparently allowed to function as a sniper anyway.  These individuals who knew him doubt the veracity of his claims to 109 kills and the spectacular shots made from a moving Tango boat.  I question how a shot like the one that Gen Ewell mentions in the book which is available on-line at http://www.history.army.mil/books/Vietnam/Sharpen/ch06.htm#b4 could have been verified.  It says that SGT Waldron "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 900 meters away, Sergeant Waldron took up his sniper rifle and picked off the Viet Cong out of the top of a coconut tree with one shot (this from a moving platform). Such was the capability of our best sniper."  How could that body count have been independently verified?
 
Waldron had some previous service with the US Navy and was 36 years old when he served as a sniper with the 9th ID in 1969.  He did receive two awards of the Distinguished Service Cross for his work as a 9th ID sniper, but I question the validity of these awards, because they were made for periods of time, like a service award... not for specific events or actions, as it was intended for this award.
 
There were several 9th ID snipers who are credited with 40-50 confirmed kills and some others in the 30-40 range.  There was one sniper in my unit - the Recon Platoon of Echo 2/39, which was part of the 1st BDE of the 9th ID.  He is listed on the log book at http://www.snipercentral.com/snipers.htm with 39 confirmed kills.  I was not around to see these results, as I came back from RVN in early February 1969, which was in the early part of his tour as a sniper.  He was a graduate of that second class at Camp Bearcat.  Most of the 9th ID snipers served 6 or 7 months maximum as snipers with the 9th ID, as most of the division was pulled out in July 1969.  Some of them went on to serve with other units and the sniper school assets were taken over by the 25th ID, as the separate 3d BDE of the 9th ID was under the control of the 25th ID until it left RVN.
 
As for the presence of NVA/VC snipers in the Mekong Delta, I was with Echo 2/39 Recon on 3 June 1968, when a rifle company of our battalion made contact with three NVA-reinforced VC battalions on the south side of the Kinh Tong Doc Loc, near the southern edge of the Plain of Reeds.  Echo Recon was brought in to reinforce the company that made initial contact.  Together, our two companies received 21 KIAs that day.  Many of them were due to head shots.  I talked with a couple of guys from the rifle company many years later, and they told me that after the battle they found a scoped bolt-action rifle (probably a Russian Moison-Nagant) with a "cheap WalMart type scope" mounted on it.  That was the type of rifle used by the Russian and Finnish snipers in the WW2 era, who are credited with 400-500 kills during their careers.
 
The Mekong Delta was a "target-rich" environment, as we had "an estimated eight million inhabitants, it constitutes about one-fourth of the total land area of South Vietnam, and contains about one-half of the country's population." The delta also  accounted for about 68% of the country's rice production. Outside of Saigon and the provincial capitals, the whole area was pretty much under enemy control by the mid-sixties, see GEN Fulton's book at  http://www.history.army.mil/books/Vietnam/riverine/chapter1.htm#b3.
 
 
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longrifle       5/6/2009 12:12:21 AM
echo239recon,
 
Thank you for the response and thank you for your service.
 
It's amazing I even found your response since it has been quite a while since I last checked this site and even longer since I last checked this thread.
 
As I mentioned, it's disappointing when you find out a legend isn't everything it was built up to be but I'm for the truth regardless.
 
If MG Ewell really had Waldron built up to be the poster boy for his sniper program I'm curious to know why that was.  The 9th ID's sniper program was considered to be a success anyway.  It didn't need false claims.
 
Thanks again.
 
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beretta       9/19/2009 9:19:27 PM
a number of excellant viet sniping books on the shelves at hastings,most quite interesting to me.
 
 
 
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echo239recon    The Myth Continues   1/8/2011 8:58:59 PM
In his recently published book, MG Ira H Hunt, who as a COL was Chief of Staff of the 9th Infantry Division under MG Julian Ewell, continues adding to the myth of Bert Waldron - Super Sniper.  On pages 67-68 of "The 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam: Unparalled and Unequalled", Hunt again describes Waldron's supposed exploits and there is a photo of Waldron on page 69.  A few additional facts about the 9th ID sniper program are offered here... a chart on page 68 shows that in 1968-69, there were 11 confirmed kills by 9th ID snipers in DEC 68, 73 in JAN 69, 93 in FEB, 211 in MAR, 346 in APR and 200 in MAY 69.  Those are the totals for ALL 9th ID snipers.  Hunt states that 75% of these kills were made at night.  Many of those were as a result of the Night Hunter, Night Search, and Night Ambush operations that the 9th ID became involved in during that period.  The use of the large Night Observation Device as a spotter scope in helicopters and at land bases, along with Starlight Scopes mounted on the sniper rifles or hand-held by spotters made these night operations and the resulting large body counts possible.  But the overall enemy body counts for the 9th ID were grossly inflated because of the incessant drive for higher body counts made by Ewell and Hunt.  This made the lower level commanders pad the numbers to satisfy higher command.  Much has been said about the high body counts reported by the 9th ID during this era (including Operation Speedy Express), but my contention is that these numbers are unreliable due to innacurate reporting... and it was not due to "innocent" civilians being slaughtered wholesale by the 9th Division personnel, as some would like to believe. 
 
 
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