The Christmas Present
January 8, 2019Civilian Marksmanship Program▸General▸The Christmas Present
My wife gave me a CMP M1 Garand for Christmas (Service Grade). I requested it from Santa, ordered it “for him” from CMP, and you (CMP) sent it to my house. My wife signed for it when it was delivered and I told her not to let me see it until Christmas morning. That’s the lead-in.
You see, my father-in-law, Earl Gise, was in the Army in WW II. He and my mother-in-law were married in early summer 1941, but then he was drafted in August of ’41. After boot camp and basic training, he served in England, North Africa, and then was seriously wounded in June 1944 just east of Naples. He spent most of the rest of 1944 recovering in a progression of field hospitals in Italy and then in London. He completely surprised my mother-in-law when he returned home and first appeared stateside to her and his family at Christmas Eve church service here in York, PA on 12/24/1944. As you can imagine, everyone was shocked and brought to tears (it still does!). She barely recognized him since he had lost so much weight. (Incidentally, my wife’s older sister was born 9/27/1945 😉 … my wife and I are 67.)
I loved to talk to my father-in-law about his experiences in Europe and N. Africa and had a couple of occasions when a couple of his Army buddies were involved in those discussions, too. He passed away in 1997. I have thought of hundreds of questions since he has been gone that I want to ask him about their specific objective and their orders at the time he was wounded. That will not happen. He told me that he carried a B.A.R. for a while but I know that he carried the M1 Garand also.
This rifle has special meaning to our family just because it is an M1. When it was delivered, I told my wife to open it if she wanted to, just don’t show it to me until Christmas. So, she did. She told me she ran her hand along it and cried, thinking that a rifle like this could have enabled the rest of his squad to save her dad’s life that day in Italy in June ’44. That really peaked my excitement to open the case on Christmas morning to check the receiver serial no. and drawing nos. on the other parts.
When I opened it on Christmas I was amazed. First, the stock did not appear to be a new replacement. It was in great condition but had some “character marks” on it, which I absolutely love! The gray-green patina on the metal parts is awesome to me. I looked at the serial no. and it is a Springfield No. 3,021,957. I was absolutely shocked. I expected a mid-1950’s H&R or IHC. The online references say it is a July 1944 Springfield shipment. The stock is stamped as a Springfield also, as is the barrel, and the operating rod. The drawing numbers on the barrel and op rod appear to be from 1944 also. The trigger pack housing drawing no. indicates it is mid-1950’s IHC hardware. I was ecstatic that my Service Grade was mostly from mid-1944 issue parts and the Springfield stock with “character” was even more of a bonus. It is almost as though when you picked the parts and assembled them, you had me and my family in mind.
I am extremely thankful to CMP for the fast response to my order and for providing the service you do to make special moments and memories such as those I related above a reality.
With warm appreciation and many thanks,
PS I disassembled my Garand and cleaned it and we took it to the range (3) days after Christmas. It shot better than me! My wife loved shooting it, too. It is now something that we will continue to cherish and gain much enjoyment from and know that our daughters’ families and our grandkids will enjoy it long after we are gone as well.