This report brought a smile to my face.
A 90-year-old World War II veteran, who described being a Marine as the “high point” of his life, has been reunited with his M1 Garand rifle after 73 years.
Resident Dick Cowell was 18 and the war was in full swing when he enlisted in the Marine Corps and was handed a uniform, the rifle and some bullets.
The firearm, his sergeant told him, was now his girlfriend, his wife and his friend. He had to take it everywhere with him, he was told. And he should never, ever call it a gun — unless he wanted to stand naked in front of his company. It was a mistake he only made once.
This Veterans Day, the old Marine is reconnecting with the dented, scratched rifle that became his third arm during the war. Today, it’s a historic relic that is bringing his family closer.
“It’s my baby,” Cowell said of the rifle. “I am very appreciative that Richard was able to find it after 73 years.”
. . .
Richard, who lives in Tequesta, spent six months hunting down the rifle after finding a white piece of paper with the word “Springfield” written in cursive followed by the serial number “3594593” in his father’s desk … A New Jersey gun collector was selling it, and after Richard outbid a tough competitor, the firearm was his.
“The rifle spent two weeks in my room before I gave it to my father,” Richard said. “I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I couldn’t believe it was finally ours.”
In late October, Cowell’s 11-year-old grandson, Tommy, presented him with the rifle. Holding the dark-brown wooden firearm, which weighs nearly 11 pounds, Cowell was flooded with memories of his first day of target practice.
“When I first fired this weapon, I tell you, it was something else,” Cowell said with a grin.
. . .
“(Finding) this rifle opened up an entirely new life for this family,” Richard said, looking at his dad. “My father has remembered things from the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s that we’ve never heard before.”
There’s more at the link, including several photographs that are worth seeing. Mr. Cowell certainly collected an impressive number of marksmanship medals with that rifle!
Sadly, that sort of attachment to, and memories of, a personal weapon doesn’t seem to apply in an age of “plastic fantastic” firearms. I can remember the rifles I used in military service, but none of them held any particular attachment for me. They were just modern assault rifles, stamped steel and pressed wood and plastic, with no “soul” to speak of. My father’s generation, on the other hand, regarded their Lee-Enfields and Garands and Mausers with real affection. They were just as mass-produced as modern rifles, but somehow they had more individuality in the eyes of their users than their modern equivalents. The same appears to be true of handguns. Talk to an aficionado about his 1911 pistol or Single Action Army revolver, and one can almost see a mist of affection pass over their faces. No-one speaks of a Glock or XD or M&P in that way.
I’m glad Mr. Cowell has been reunited with his rifle. May it pass down through the generations of his descendants, to remind them that their ancestor was a fighting man.