Vet “Bring Backs” – Redux

Posted by Bruce Canfield

I’ve commented here on this several times before, but the subject of “Vet Bring Backs” seems to be popping up more frequently on a number of Internet discussion forums. As stated in a posting a couple of columns down (“Weapons and Veterans”), it was very uncommon, but certainly not unheard of, for a veteran to smuggle back a weapon after he departed from service. As more and more of the “Greatest Generation” are leaving us, a number of their artifacts, including firearms, will be coming on the market and many will promptly be sold by their widows, children or other heirs. As mentioned, for some reason, it is common for such individuals to assume that any gun remotely related to the military must have been “carried back” by Dad or Grandpa. In a very small fraction of the cases, this may be true but in the vast majority of times, it was simply a gun that the now-deceased former owner purchased through the CMP, bought at a gun show or gun store, or won in a crap game. Regardless, it is more interesting to claim (often with no malice intended) that this was the gun that their beloved relative “carried in the war.” Perhaps, not coincidentally, such stories are often accompanied by an inflated price tag. Some buyers of these guns who bought into the “vet bring back” story have convinced themselves that they stumbled upon a real treasure because, for example, the M1 carbine or M1 rifle they bought had never been through a post-war rebuild, thus has to be legit. It is true that a rifle rebuilt in the 1950s certainly couldn’t be the same rifle that Uncle Bob carried in WWII and which has remained in his closet since 1945. Leaving out the possibility that some former owner “restored” the gun in the past and it truly is still in its factory-original configuration, the “vet bring back” story is still most likely hokum. The DCM and CMP sold a number of such weapons that were never rebuilt, but also probably never left the United States and certainly weren’t war veteran “bring backs.”

Speaking of Internet discussion sites, I just saw a posting where some individual asked how many M2 carbines were brought back home by veterans. Naturally, such an inane question resulted in many smart-alec responses by guys who gave varying answers with tongues firmly in cheeks. Everybody knows that 26 M2 carbines were brought back home by veterans (sorry…I couldn’t resist the urge to join the smart-a** crowd).

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