Mr. Murphy's M1 (You've gotta read this one)


March 27, 2003, 12:18 AM
Mr. Murphy's M1
CMP Reunites Korean War Veteran with Wartime Rifle

Sitting on a hill overlooking the Imjin River in Korea in 1951, Army Private James Murphy of the 1st Cavalry, 8th Regiment, 2nd Battalion worked to flake off the mud encrusted on his M1 Garand rifle. After disassembling it for cleaning, he took the pencil he had used earlier to write a letter home and scrawled his initials on the end of the stock before reinstalling the butt plate. "I never gave it another thought," he said fifty-two years later, then pausing, added, "until a few weeks ago."

James Murphy served in the U. S. Army during the Korean War. He earned the Combat Infantryman Badge and was awarded the Bronze Star for valor in combat. He had qualified expert with the M1 and several other weapons. Much of his time in Korea was spent driving a tank hauler and retriever, sometimes very close to the fighting. He worked on the tanks and also the trucks he drove. But he was also assigned to make many combat patrols. He was, after all, an infantryman. So, it is easy to see how something as small as scribbling his initials under the butt plate of a rifle could slip his mind.

However, in late 2002, the Service Grade M1 Garand manufactured at Springfield Armory that he ordered from the CMP was delivered to his doorstep in Fennimore, Wisconsin. Mr. Murphy opened the box with excitement, "I hadn't held an M1 in years and when a friend of mine told me about the CMP, I ordered a Garand as soon as I could," he stated. After the cardboard and packing foam were pulled away, a well-worn M1 found its way into his hands. Mr. Murphy held it and began to think of all the years that had passed since he had been in Korea and carried an M1 Garand rifle every day.

Since he bought the rifle for target shooting, Mr. Murphy decided to follow the procedure recommended by the CMP. He stripped the rifle down for inspection and cleaning before he ventured to the range with his new prize. The CMP supplies detailed instructions with each rifle it sells and recommends a thorough inspection and cleaning before firing. "There are some things I just never forget," he said sitting over his rifle at his kitchen table, "and I remembered exactly how to strip and clean a Garand."

"During the takedown of the rifle, I took all the metal off of the stock to make sure no surface rust had found its way into any parts of the rifle. When I removed the buttplate, I could barely believe my eyes." Mr.Murphy stood and carried the rifle to a window to put better light on the stock. "My eyes aren't the best in the world these days, so I needed to look again," he said. Standing by that window in his house in Wisconsin, Mr. Murphy was taken back in time to Korea. There under the butt plate were the initials he had scrawled while sitting on that hill in Korea over fifty years earlier. Mr. Murphy immediately contacted the CMP about this coincidence, a coincidence whose odds are much greater than winning the lottery…an occurrence that may not happen in many lifetimes.

To put the odds of this happening into perspective, over six million M1 Garands were produced; nearly all ended up in the hands of soldiers in combat during World War II, Korea and even as late as the Viet Nam War. The odds of receiving the very same rifle one was issued during the Korean War are astounding - the odds of winning the lottery are indeed better. The CMP sells rifles on an as ordered basis, meaning no picking and choosing is allowed, the customer simply gets the next rifle that comes off of the rack. "It seems as if this rifle and I were not meant to be apart," he said with a smile, "and some day I will leave it to my grandson so it will always be in our family."

That day on the hill overlooking the Imjin River in 1951, Jack Murphy did more than write a letter home to his wife, he wrote his initials on the butt stock of his rifle to send a letter to himself that he was destined to receive over 50 years later. By now, both Mr. Murphy and his rifle have spent some time together on the shooting range, relaxing and enjoying the freedoms they helped to secure.

For more information on how you can own a piece of history, go to the CMP Rifle Purchase web page at
James Murphy with the Springfield Armory M1 Garand rifle he purchased from the CMP…a rifle with which he shared a long personal history.
The butt stock of Mr. Murphy’s M1. Computer enhancement was applied to aid in seeing the position of the original light pencil marks on the wood. The pencil marks, while faint from wear under the metal butt plate, survived for over 50 years.

That's some real Twilight Zone kinda stuff, there...

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March 27, 2003, 12:26 AM
If you love something, set it free.
If it comes back, it was ment to be.
If it does not come back, hunt it down and kill it.

I guess it was ment to be.


March 27, 2003, 12:33 AM
Oh man, what are the odds?

I need to go check on this one, 'cause I'm just having a hard time buying it.

But as the man said- "if it's not true... it should be"

March 27, 2003, 12:35 AM
Well, I'll be dog-GUN! That's strange!

March 27, 2003, 12:44 AM
Amazing and heartwarming! :D

March 27, 2003, 07:05 AM
I guess it's true; "There are many like it, but this one is mine." :)

Kentucky Rifle
March 27, 2003, 08:52 AM
In the early 60's when I was in Military School, I carried an M1 and M79 grenade launcher. I cursed them both as I crawled through the mud, but when I turned them back in I felt like I was turning in a little piece of me. Sometimes I dream about flipping that M1 over and pulling back on the rear of the trigger guard to release the trigger group and...ahhh, I'm old.
I wonder what the "Brady Bunch" would say about that now? 356 of us in that battalion, all teen-agers, every single one of us armed with his own M1. Kinda makes me grin.


March 27, 2003, 09:20 AM
Wow, that is too cool. Springfield should give him his money back, after all it was HIS rifle.

March 27, 2003, 09:50 AM
Very heartwarming indeed,

But not to be a parade-pisser here, the chances of that rifle, or all parts of it, being what Mr Murphy actually carried in Korea are slim even still. The buttstock is the same, but the rest of the rifle may all be different parts. Who knows if, and how many times, that rifle was dissassembled and reassembled and rebuilt, and what parts were swapped around or replaced. A completely different rifle may be in that stock.

Anyway, it is still way cool, and I'm glad Mr. Murphy got it back!

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