13 Cent Killers : The 5th Marine Snipers In Vietnam by John Culbertson

13 Cent Killers : The 5th Marine Snipers In Vietnam by John Culbertson

Author: John Culbertson
View book: 13 Cent Killers : The 5th Marine Snipers In Vietnam

Surviving with a $1,000 bounty on your life is no easy feat. This was the reality for the 5th Marine Regiment Sniper Platoon during the Vietnam War. In 1967, bullets were cheap, costing only thirteen cents, and the Viet Cong were eager to eliminate these highly skilled marksmen. Author John J. Culbertson, a former Marine sniper himself, shares the gripping true stories of these young American soldiers who faced constant danger with bolt rifles and bounties on their heads.

These fearless snipers, working in pairs as spotters and shooters, fought alongside battle-hardened Marine rifle companies, such as the 2/5, on treacherous patrols and combat missions. Whether navigating through deadly Viet Cong “kill zones” or engaging NVA crack troops, they demonstrated the utmost skill in jungle warfare. Their patience, stealth, combat marksmanship, and raw courage earned them the distinction of being the most decorated regimental sniper platoon in the Vietnam War.

These accounts are harrowing and unforgettable, paying tribute to the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice. Within the ranks of the 5th Marine snipers, uncommon valor was a recurring virtue. From 1967 through the intense Tet battle for Hue in early ’68, their unwavering dedication was unmatched. Through this book, Culbertson ensures that their stories will not be forgotten, showcasing the bravery of these remarkable individuals.

13-Cent Killers: A Glimpse into Vietnam War through the Eyes of Marine Snipers

Discover the Stories of Vietnam War Snipers in John Culbertson’s Book: 13-Cent Killers

Today, we have a special guest with us. John Culbertson, a veteran from the Vietnam War, served in the 5th Marine Regiment sniper platoon. He has written multiple books about his experiences, and today he is here to talk about his book, 13-Cent Killers: The 5th Marine Snipers in Vietnam.

What does the title “13-Cent Killers” mean?

Well, in 1967, we used ammunition that cost 13 cents per bullet. I thought it was an appropriate name for what we did as snipers.

What makes a sniper platoon unique?

Snipers are selected for their exceptional marksmanship skills. They are expert riflemen. Additionally, they must have combat experience and the ability to remain composed in enemy situations. It’s a dangerous task, and all snipers must volunteer.

Snipers played a crucial role as a protective screen for other units. When moving across open areas, such as rice paddies, they were vulnerable to enemy fire. They also served as point scouts, gathering intelligence and assessing the safety of routes for larger units.

How did the Vietnamese snipers compare to the American snipers?

The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese had skilled snipers who were familiar with the jungle environment. They had the advantage of stealth and their knowledge of the local terrain. It made our job even more challenging.

What were the daily tasks of a sniper?

Snipers had a variety of responsibilities. These included protecting units from enemy fire, suppressing enemy units that could target friendly forces, and gathering intelligence about enemy movements. They also conducted nighttime ambushes to interdict enemy foot traffic.

Did you face any direct threats as a sniper?

Absolutely, the Vietnamese put a bounty of a thousand dollars on snipers. They recognized the threat we posed with our telescopic scopes. We had the ability to interdict their movements and target individual enemy soldiers. We were constantly targeted.

Did you have to conduct research for this book, or did you rely on personal experiences?

I knew the historical data, the weapons, the terrain, and the events of 1967. To ensure accuracy, I also met with eight former snipers and documented their experiences. Some of the individuals I served with, allowing me to include their personalities in the narrative.

What message do you hope readers take away from your book?

I want people to understand the challenges we faced as young, patriotic soldiers caught in a difficult situation. Our training was insufficient for jungle warfare, and our enemies knew the terrain better. It’s important for readers to recognize the sacrifices and the commitment we had to our country.


John Culbertson’s book, 13-Cent Killers: The 5th Marine Snipers in Vietnam, provides a realistic portrayal of the experiences of snipers during the Vietnam War. It sheds light on the unique challenges they faced and the dangers they encountered. Through Culbertson’s words, readers gain insight into the lives of these brave individuals and the sacrifices they made.

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