Monday, April 19, 2010

Politics, World War 2, and A New Rifle

This weekend I went down to DC with my family to see my parents and go to the FairTax tax day rally, but I also ended up learning a thing or two about infantry training during WW2 and came home with a new (to me) rifle.  

Neil Boortz and Ken Hoagland spoke as did Amy Kremer from the Tea Party movement. And Victoria Jackson from Saturday Night Live sang a song called  "There's A Communist Living In The White House."

Which surprised me for two reasons: one is that she makes her living in a notoriously left wing profession, so this was a ballsy move for her.  Secondly and  -- holy shit -- her voice really could shatter glass if she let it rip. 

I didn't see as much of the rally as I would have liked as I was assigned my 4-year old to look after and I suspect that he may have some anarchist leanings. Instead of lending his voice to collective action, he chose to leave the rally and march across the street, waving his little "Don't Tread on Me Flag". His individual protest too the form of pitching my pocket change into a fountain and frightening the ducks.

I didn't want him to wave a political sign or carry a flag, since he doesn't really understand the message behind it, but if you can keep a kid-sized flag out of your son's hands when 1000 other people are waving them, you're a better dad than I. 

After the kids were in bed, I rooted around in the basement and came up with a box of letters between my uncle Terry, his parents and my father.

Terry died on November 22, 1944 fighting the SS in a German town named Eschweiler, and these letters are most of what the family has to remember him by.  Ive been meaning to look at these letters for a while, but I always found a reason to put it off.

There are a lot of personal details in the correspondence, including some unopened letters that arrived for Terry after he was killed, and were sent back -- heartbreakingly stamped "Recipient Deceased 11/22/44."

But the letters Terry sent were full of details about the training he went through in Texas -- marching 9 miles in 2 and 3/4 hours wearing an 85 lb pack, or running the obstacle course 6 or 8 times in a day. He loved the M1 rifle and claimed "you can't miss." He qualified as Sharpshooter with a score of 179/200, so I guess he missed a little. Still, he was able to hit a 36-inch target 600 yards away, which impressed the heck out of me.

Next to the box of letters was an old bolt action single shot .22 rifle, which was his. The action and bolt seem to be in good shape considering how it was stored, but the front of the barrel is rusted and there may be some obstruction in there.

I think I'll take it to a local gunsmith and see if I can have it restored. If anyone's interested, I can post pix. Or if you know the best way to get rust off a rifle barrel, let me hear it in the comments.


ASM826 said...

I think your first idea, getting it to a gunsmith you trust, is the right one. Rust can be removed, the bore cleaned, and the barrel refinished.

I would be interested in hearing more of the letters, as well. Get the story of your Uncle pieced together and written down while you can, you won't regret it.

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