The Greatest Combat Throw on Record, Skeeter - Paul Kirchner
Posted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 1:09 am
"For Paladin’s Even More Dangerously Fun Stuff For Boys Who Never Really Grew Up, I contributed a chapter titled “Knife Throwing in Combat: Fantasy vs. Reality.” I searched numerous databases for accounts of incidents in which a knife was thrown and instantly killed an enemy in combat, and could find no credible record of such a thing ever having occurred. However, the researcher learns to avoid making absolute statements, because further information is always forthcoming. In the spring of this year, I took a class with Mike Janich, himself an accomplished knife thrower and Paladin author, and asked if he had ever heard of such an incident. He immediately tossed out a name: Skeeter Vaughan, a full-blooded Cherokee and professional knife thrower who served in World War II.
George “Skeeter” Vaughan (1922–1989) was raised on an Indian reservation in California and as a boy hunted small game with throwing knives. By the time he was in his teens, he was performing as a professional knife thrower. In 1942, at age 19, he enlisted in the army, where he earned the rank of sergeant.
In Tomahawk Throwing: The Art of the Experts, author Harry K. McEvoy described Sgt. Skeeter Vaughan's famous knife throw. His six-man patrol was tasked with taking out a German pillbox, guarded by a sentry. Any shooting would compromise the mission. Though it was dark, the Americans realized they would be clearly silhouetted against the snow-covered ground if they approached. One of his men asked Skeeter if he could kill the German from a distance with the 16-inch throwing knife he had modified from a bayonet. Skeeter decided to risk a try, crawling as close as he dared to the sentry, whose back was toward him.
Here's how McEvoy describes what followed: “With a skill developed over many years of continual practice, Skeeter hurled his bayonet knife in a high trajectory, aiming for a spot about three feet above the head of the sentry. The weapon turned silently over and over in its long downhill pinwheel flight, and to Skeeter’s amazement, the sentry dropped face down into the snow without a sound—the weapon had penetrated the sentry’s head at the base of his skull. . . . The patrol cleaned out the pillbox with grenades. The following morning, Skeeter's throw was measured at a miraculous 87 feet!”
Skeeter went on to have a successful career in Hollywood as an actor and stuntman.
In a reenactment of Skeeter’s feat, competitive knife thrower Mike “Alamo” Bainton only got his knife to stick on his fourth throw, and even then he just hit a door-sized target, not an exact spot as Skeeter would have had to have done. I would feel more confident in the truth of the story if there were some reference to it outside of McEvoy's book. However, Skeeter was one of the greatest knife throwers who ever lived, and he himself always attributed his throw more to luck and prayer than to skill."