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A Private’s Combat .45

A Private’s Combat .45

This World War II veteran was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1922. When he was 5, his family emigrated to the United States, and by the age of 20, he had joined the U.S. Army.

Being part Choctaw Indian, the private first class knew just how to psyche up his platoon for their first combat mission—they painted their faces and shaved their heads into fierce Mohawk haircuts. Off the battlefield, his unit gained a reputation for fighting and spending time in the stockade. “We were always in trouble,” he admitted. Their exploits inspired a popular novel and, later, a movie.

His illustrious Army career earned him a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star with Oak Leaf. After he left the military, he worked as an installer for Western Electric in Pennsylvania. He passed away in 2010 at the age of 88. 

Click here to find out about this American hero and learn about the semi-automatic pistol that was never far from his hand. It’s just one of the many fascinating treasures on display at the NRA National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Va.