Monday, July 18, 2005
Fourth of July Surprise Rifle!
This is my great uncle Alfred. His brother Sam was killed at Oahu on December 7, 1941. Alfred joined the Army sometime before that, and this picture was taken on his last leave home. On the back it says, "Alfred, just commissioned July 4 '42." He was a Lieutenant in the infantry.
He landed in North Africa on the first day of the invasion. He fought through that campaign and landed in France in June of 1944. He fought all through the rest of the war against Germany, finishing as a Captain. He was awarded a silver star.
I remember uncle Alfred as a strong character. When I was very young we visited him and he taught me never to say "I think", because it sounded indecisive. To this day I say "I believe".
His war experiences he seldom spoke about. He was pretty deaf, and that was a souvenir of battle. I do remember a few tales of his experiences, and one had to do with making his rifle work in the cold winter- he slept with it in his sleeping bag to keep it from freezing. He called it "my 8 shooter teddy bear". I now know that officers were issued carbines but he obviously chose an m1, as many infantry officers did. Carrying the soldiers' rifle made them less obvious targets.
I've never owned a Garand, and have meant to order one from the CMP. Finally I did, and on the fourth of July...
I took it to the range to see how well it shoots.
8 1/2x11 paper. I'm not that good a shot, that is at 40 yards. Still minute of Nazi.
Minute of Jap, too.
Everybody forgets the Italians, the first Fascists. So they got an extra shot.
I noted the serial number,
and looked closely at the barrel- VERY closely..
Yes, JULY 1942. This rifle and my Second Lieutenant great uncle were both manufactured the same month. Odds are millions to one that he carried this one, but who knows?
What a pleasant surprise.