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Marine Rock Ola Carried on Iwo Jima

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HammerGrunt View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HammerGrunt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 12 2021 at 5:59am
Type 1 Underwood Firing Pin. Either a lateral transfer to Rockola, or put in by Unit Armorers to replace its original one before it was taken off of Iwo.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote john843 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 12 2021 at 10:14am
General, is there any more history on this rifle that you can share with us?   Would be interesting to know how it got from the Pacific and eventually into Mr. Rust' collection in that configuration and condition. Bring-home by someone, perhaps? GREAT piece of history and great thing you're doing to bring it home!
John
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HammerGrunt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 12 2021 at 10:39am
Yes, that is the rest of the story that I’m also trying to uncover. Marcus bought it online from a Pawn shop in a town just north of Tampa Florida nine years ago. I believe he said the pawn shop
had got it as part of a storage unit group of items.

What is so uncanny, is that I live just 25 minutes away from that very pawnshop in Pasco County Florida. I’m gonna go check with the owners there to see if they have any records of how they acquired it...

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HammerGrunt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 12 2021 at 8:00pm
Long time carbine enthusiast / collector and fellow Marine Bill Moore sent me information that had been posted 6 years ago regarding the unidentified boxed unit symbol that’s carved on the buttstock adjacent to the 4th Marine Division cartouche. It was from Dr. Howard Shockett who said that if you turn the muzzle skyward and looked at this symbol in this orientation it appears to be a 2 superimposed over a 3 and in this orientation what we assumed was a 3 at the top of the box, could be a W to the right side of the box. W could represent “Weapons”, for Weapons Platoon, and we know that Weapons Platoon Marines were issued Carbines.

What Dr. Shockett and others didn’t know when he posted this information 6 years ago was that Marine Felix Ricci was in 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment when he was wounded February 28 and evacuated at the height of the battle for Iwo Jima. 

Just a coincidence that one of the two Ricci’s was in a Combat unit that was known as “23rd Marines” and this box looks to have a 2 and a 3 in it if you turn it to the orientation that Dr. Shockett says? :-)



The other Marine Peter Paul Ricci who was KIA February 20th the day after landing, was in 2nd Battalion 25th Marine Regiment and would not have the numbers 2 and 3 associated with his unit...



Edited by HammerGrunt - Sep 12 2021 at 8:22pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Mortar-Forker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 14 2021 at 11:39pm
Originally posted by HammerGrunt HammerGrunt wrote:

My understanding was that you were issued a weapon when you checked into your unit and you kept that weapon as long as you were in that unit. Iwo Jima was the fourth Amphibious assault landing for the 4th Marine Division (Roi-Namur, Tinian, Saipan, Iwo) and both Ricci’s were in 4th Marine Division prior to those landings in 1944 so I believe this early Rockola that was built In the Fall of 1943 most likely would have been issued to either Ricci when they joined their Battalion unit in 4thMarine Division.

When I meet with 98-year-old Marine Woody Williams in a couple of weeks I’ll ask him to validate the unit weapon issuing protocols in 1943-45.




Iwo Jima: World War II Veterans Remember the Greatest Battle of the Pacific

https://www.amazon.com/Iwo-Jima-Larry-Smith-audiobook/dp/B001DIH1YG

In this audiobook composed of interviews with Marines and a corpsman from Iwo, there are three mentions of carbines. One is from an ordinance guy that won a Medal of Honor for destroying numerous pill boxes under heavy fire. He swapped his M1 carbine for a Garand early claiming he could not hit anything with the carbine. Another was issued to an amphibious landing vehicle crew member and he also swapped to a Garand after claiming the carbine did not have the stopping power to take down a Japanese soldier. The third was to another Medal of Honor recipient, a Corpsman who swapped the carbine for a 1911 because it only got in the way. The casualties were very high and there was no shortage of weapons.

This does not address the question of when rifles were issued, or how long before they checked them back into the armory. It does show that weapons were exchanged in the field and the rifle you were issued may not be the one you returned with.

That Rockola carbine is a great reminder of the connection these weapons have to the individuals who fought in the Pacific. We lost a lot of Marines on Iwo.

The audiobook is a great historical resource, I highly recommend it. It was available through my local library with the overdrive/libby/downloaddestination apps.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HammerGrunt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 15 2021 at 10:26am
Thank you! I really look forward to listening to that audiobook and I appreciate you sharing it with us.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote HammerGrunt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 23 2021 at 7:03pm
I finally was able to go visit the pawnshop where this carbine was purchased by Marcus almost 9 years ago. Fortune favors the bold! The owner of the pawnshop is also a Marine and were in Afghanistan in 2009 & 10 at the same base in Kandahar. It’s such a small Marine Corps!

When I told him the story about this Iwo Jima RockOla, he immediately dug out stacks of old records and we turned the page by page until we found where this Carbine had been bought by the pawnshop. The elderly gentleman who sold it to the pawnshop still lived in the local area so I drove to his house knocked on his door and had a wonderful conversation with him.

It’s an amazing story. This 70-year-old gentleman Ralph Bruno had got this RockOla from his elderly Marine great uncle “Mike” who he said had been a drill instructor at the beginning of World War II, and who served on Iwo Jima. Mr. Bruno said his great uncle had this RockOla and a number of Samurai swords, a pistol, and some Japanese flags that he remembers seeing when he was a little boy visiting his uncles house.  Uncle Mike gave this RockOla to his then 12-year-old great nephew Ralph in 1963 to play “Army” with out in the neighborhood. Uncle Mike took the firing pin out to make it inoperable so his great nephew could play with it. When he grew up Mr. Bruno said he bought the Underwood firing pin and put it in the RockOla to make it operable again. Now we know why it has in Underwood firing pin :-)

I’m going to work with the Marine Corps historical branch to try to find Marine named Michael Bruno who would’ve served in World War II. He would’ve been well into his 30s when the war started so would’ve been a very senior enlisted Marine when he was on Iwo Jima. The Bruno‘s and Ricci‘s were Italian families and Ralph believes that is the connection that his great uncle Mike would have had to the Ricci name that’s carved on the stock on the Rockola.

More to come as I find great uncle Michael Bruno :-)

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pro Libertate Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 23 2021 at 8:10pm
Wow! Kudos to you for doing all the legwork to uncover this incredible story-- I think you may have missed your calling as an investigative journalist or a detective.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rebel92 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 23 2022 at 4:17pm
Any updates?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HammerGrunt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 14 2022 at 8:35pm
Still awaiting the "paperwork" to be sent to me from the Military records archives. The Marine Corps Museum in Quantico VA is VERY interested in this Carbine given its USMC Iwo Jima history and provenance and its being in my possession now.  

Of course they REALLY want to "borrow" and display the Japanese Bayonet I have in my possession that was personally captured by then LtCol Chesty Puller during the fighting on Guadalcanal :-) 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rebel92 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 15 2022 at 11:28am
Dang, so this has been dragging on for almost a year? the anticipation is killing me! 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jond41403 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 17 2022 at 11:26am
That is simply amazing that you own a bayonet captured by THE Chesty Puller! That sucker is priceless!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote HammerGrunt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 17 2022 at 3:23pm
Yes, I'm VERY fortunate to have this historic weapon from WWII. In 1942 then LtCol Chesty Puller "captured" this Japanese bayonet during close quarters fighting on Guadalcanal and he carried it with him thru the Pacific Islands campaign, and in 1945 as the War was ending he gave it Captain E. William "Bill" Bunkers who had been at Chesty's side thru every battle from Guadalcanal to Okinawa. 

MoH Woody Williams was more interested in this "weapon" than he was my Rock-Ola M1 Carbine!


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jond41403 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 17 2022 at 8:26pm
Thank you for the picture! I would be awe struck to own such a thing, being able to touch the same pair of grips that chesty pullers hands gripped. What a truly awesome piece of History you have there. And knowing everywhere it traveled with him is just outstanding.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carbinekid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 17 2022 at 9:18pm
This has been very interesting to see unfold. It’s great that you are making progress on unraveling this story. Keep it up! I might suggest you check out the USMC muster rolls on Fold3 to see what you can turn up. The archives will have the real detailed info, but it’s a start.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nevinator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 27 2022 at 9:09am
Great acquisition!  If anyone can uncover the provenance of this fine specimen, it would be you.  Many thanks for sharing.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote triple20 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 28 2022 at 9:09pm
This is an amazing post,thank you!
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