First Generation Colt: Greatest Generation Story

posted on September 10, 2013
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Michael Ives

Shot down in a b-17 during an 8th Air Force bombing raid over Germany in 1943, Staff Sgt. Donald Williams found himself a POW in Stalag 17-b. Much as was depicted in the 1953 film “Stalag 17,” his dreary existence was filled with filth, disease and hunger. When 4,000 survivors marched out of the camp gates on April 8, 1945, many only had thoughts of returning home.

But Williams also wanted to express his gratitude to two other prisoners who had been his friends in the camp. Back in America, he gathered a set of early Colt single-action revolvers. Reblued, and engraved by his mother, Illinois native Williams added Mexican silver grip panels to the guns and sent them off. His personal .44-cal. six-gun still bears his name and the faint inscription “Stalag 17-b” on the backstrap.

The National Firearms Museum at NRA Headquarters is home to more than 3,000 firearms that “were there” to witness history, illustrating the story of firearms, freedom and the American experience. In addition to the original museum in Fairfax, Va., the NRA's new National Sporting Arms Museum at Bass Pro in Springfield, Mo., offers an equal visitor experience for arms enthusiasts. For more information, check out the museum website at www.nramuseum.com, e-mail [email protected] or call (703) 267-1600.

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