Marine reunited with his service-era M1 Garand after 54 years

Alabama resident and 1960s-era Marine veteran Owen Smith has his M1 back (Photo: CMP)

In the 1960s, Owen Smith was a Marine stationed in Japan as part of an air control squadron. As such, he was issued an M1 Garand from the armory. Fast forward a half-century and the rifle is once more in his hands only it now belongs to him and not Uncle Sam.

While looking through an old scrapbook recently, Smith’s family rediscovered the Kennedy-era weapon card detailing the rifle’s particulars and contacted the Civilian Marksmanship Program to see if they had the gun in their inventory of military surplus M1s. The rifle, which according to its serial number was made by Harrington & Richardson Arms in 1953, was in fact in the custody of the CMP and the federally-chartered non-profit reunited the Marine veteran with the gun at their store in Anniston recently.

Smith’s story is similar to that of a North Carolina military retiree who in 2017 got to wrap his hands around an M1 he last saw in 1960 and was located through the CMP. The group does, in fact, handle requests for those looking for special guns, such as in the latter case. They had 32 such requests on file last year, but it is rare they are able to fill them.

The group recently received roughly 99,000 vintage M1 rifles repatriated from the Philippines and Turkey to bolster the stocks they already had on hand. The influx of Garands — for which the organization had to pay to ship from overseas but is authorized to sell to the public by Congress to support firearms safety training and marksmanship efforts around the country — is one of the biggest stockpiles the group has received in years.

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