- Bob Lee Swagger
Bob Lee Swagger First appearance Point of Impact Last appearance I, Sniper Created by Stephen Hunter Portrayed by Mark Wahlberg Information Nickname(s) Bob the Nailer Gender Male Occupation Former Marine Gunnery Sergeant Family Earl Swagger (father)
June Swagger (mother)
Lamar Pye (half-brother)
Spouse(s) Julie Fenn-Swagger Children Nikki Swagger
Miko Swagger adopted
Ray Cruz (GySgt USMC)
Bob Lee Swagger (also known as Bob the Nailer) is a fictional character created by Stephen Hunter. He is the protagonist in a series of books that relate his life after and during the Vietnam War—Point of Impact, Black Light, Time to Hunt, The 47th Samurai, Night of Thunder, I, Sniper and, most recently Dead Zero. He is also the protagonist of the film Shooter (based on Point of Impact). Swagger is loosely based on USMC Sniper Carlos Hathcock.
Fictional character biography
Bob Swagger is a retired Marine Gunnery Sergeant who was born in 1946 and raised in Blue Eye (a fictionalized version of Mena, Arkansas) in Polk County, Arkansas. He is the son of Arkansas State Trooper Earl Swagger (Earl was also a former Marine First Sergeant and Medal of Honor recipient) and June Swagger. Bob Lee had a natural gift for firearms from an early age, something seemingly possessed by all male Swaggers. He had a half brother, named Lamar Pye, the product of a one night stand between his father and Edie White Pye.
After his father died in 1955, Bob Lee joined the Marines, forging a successful career as a Marine Sniper. Bob Lee served three tours in Vietnam, working with Special Operations, and earned the nickname 'Bob the Nailer' for his uncanny ability with a rifle. Despite official counts crediting him with 87 combat kills, in reality he has killed a total of 391 men, with his most notable success being an engagement with a battalion of the North Vietnamese Army who were closing on a lightly defended Special Forces Base. Bob Lee and his spotter, Lance Corporal Donny Fenn, succeeded in delaying the battalion for two days until air support could arrive, and during the engagement Bob Lee killed in excess of 80 enemy troops, only stopping when his ammunition ran out.
While serving in Vietnam, Swagger was shot in the hip from a distance of 1400 meters by T. Solaratov, a Soviet sniper who also killed Fenn soon after with a shot to the chest from the same distance.
Bob Lee was retired by the Marine Corps in 1975, suffering from a permanent disability due to the hip wound. He became an alcoholic to numb his depression, which resulted in the break-up of his first marriage, and he retreated to a hermitic existence on family land near Blue Eye. Sworn off killing, he hunts trophy deer using an innovative paintball style bullet which stuns them for several minutes, during which he saws off their antlers so they are no longer attractive to trophy hunters.
The events of Point of Impact begin at this stage of his life (1992) when he is approached by a clandestine organization to prevent the assassination of the President by a highly trained sniper, who he is told is the same sniper who shot him and killed his spotter. When the assassination attempt kills a visiting dignitary from Salvador, Bob Lee finds himself framed as the 'lone gunman'. With the help of Nick Memphis, an FBI agent assigned to the case, and attorney Sam Vincent, an old friend of Earl Swagger, Bob Lee manages to clear his name and destroy the people who set him up.
He goes on to marry Julie Fenn, the widow of his spotter, and they have a daughter, Nikki Swagger. In Black Light, Swagger unravels a conspiracy behind the murder of his father by a prominent presidential candidate.
In Time to Hunt, Swagger solves the mystery of his spotter's death, which culminates into a duel with a Solaratov. This novel also depicts a portion of Bob Lee's service in the Vietnam War.
The fourth Bob Lee Swagger novel, The 47th Samurai, was published on September 11, 2007. In this novel, Bob Lee travels to Japan to return a samurai sword recovered by his father in World War II to its rightful owner, but quickly finds himself wrapped up in yet another deadly plot. This novel reveals the story of Earl's tour of duty on Iwo Jima.
The fifth novel, Night of Thunder, was published in 2008. In this novel Swagger, at 63 yrs old, is trying to find out who ran his 24 yr old daughter Nikki off the road in an attempt on her life. Set in NASCAR country and centered around the big race at Bristol, the Grumleys from Hunter's "Hot Springs" re-appear in this novel. Once again Swagger finds himself hunting the hunters and at his advanced age is still shooting straight and fast. He makes his way through Malvern and Sheridan.
The sixth novel, I, Sniper, was published in 2009. In this novel, the FBI enlists Bob Lee's help in investigating the murders of several prominent 1960s Vietnam war protesters. Although the evidence initially points to former Marine sniper Carl Hitchcock (based on Carlos Hathcock), Bob Lee quickly discovers that Hitchcock was framed for the murders and sets out to find the real killer. His investigation takes him into the world of modern military sniper warfare, which technology has altered greatly since his days in Vietnam.
The seventh Bob Lee Swagger novel, "Dead Zero", released Dec. 28th 2010, and is set in the current global war on terror. A marine sniper named Ray Cruz, on an assassination mission, is betrayed, and in the time after, the target, Ibrahim Zarzi, also known as "the beheader" becomes a prospective Afghani Presidential candidate. Zarzi professes loyalty to the U.S. after attempts on his life, but Cruz resurfaces to complete the mission. Bob Lee Swagger is brought in as a consultant by request of Assistant Director Nick Memphis, friendly with Swagger since the events of 'Point of Impact' and C.I.A. Agent Susan Okada, of 'The 47th Samurai'. Swagger is asked to help find Cruz, but along the way becomes sympathetic of Cruz and doubts his guilt. Later it is revealed that Cruz is Swagger's son, byproduct of a previously unknown marriage to a Vietnamese woman who was killed during the Tet Offensive. The loss of his wife and disappearance of the baby, it is theorized, motivated Swagger to take a third tour of duty, this time as a Sniper, and establishing his legend.
In Dead Zero,Swagger moves from action hero to detective and strategist. Other elements in Dead Zero new to the Bob Lee Swagger novels are the inclusion of Private Security Contractors and their presence in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. One of the plot elements is a three man team referred to as "unidentified contractor team". They use the M82 Barrett Sniper Rifle, also new to this series. Other devices new in this series are a miniature transponder called an "active RFID" or RFID tag. The use of "drones" (remote controlled unmanned aerial vehicles) is also new in this novel, and on the final page of the novel, Swagger is figuratively seen as using a drone for a sniper kill.
"Dead Zero" in sniper and precision shooting usage refers to the desirable state of affairs where after several trial shots (called "Ranging Shots") the horizontal cross-hair in the optical reticle have been adjusted for the distance and elevation of the target, and the vertical cross-hair has been adjusted for windage, and so the crossing of the two in the field of view of the shooter corresponds to the anticipated point of impact. The cross-hairs meet on the target just as one sees on movie and TV use of telescopic sights
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