Dick Cowell was 18 years old when he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1944. He was handed his uniform, an M1 rifle, and some bullets and told by his sergeant that this weapon was his girlfriend, wife, and friend.
Now, 73 years later, Cowell was finally reunited with his trusty companion.
Cowell’s family has a long military history. His father served in WWI, and his great-grandfather fought in the Civil War. His son, Richard, did not serve in the military, but has become the family historian and works to honor his father’s legacy.
Richard spent six months tracking down the rifle after coming across a piece of paper on his father’s desk with the word “Springfield” followed by the numbers “3594593.”
“It didn’t matter the cost,” said Richard. “The rifle was a piece of history, and it is a part of him. I was going to buy it even if I had to mortgage the house.”
After six months of searching, Richard found the rifle on a gun sales website. A gun collector from New Jersey was selling it online, but Richard had to outbid a tough competitor for his father’s old M1 rifle.
“Finding this rifle opened up an entirely new life for this family,” said Richard. “My father has remembered things from the 30s, 40s, and 50s that we’ve never heard before.”
“When I first fired this weapon, I tell you, it was something else,” Cowell said. Cowell earned two Sharpshooter medals for his shooting prowess with this rifle.
After its service with Cowell during WWII, the rifle was used by other soldiers during the Korean and Vietnam wars.
“It’s my baby,” Cowell said. “I am very appreciative that Richard was able to find it after 73 years.”