U.S. Soldier with M1 Garand from 1942

An M1 Garand used by a Marine Raider during World War II is currently undergoing extensive preservation work at a Navy lab to try and save this little piece of history for future generations to learn from.

During the darkest part of the war in the Pacific, a group of Marine Raiders stormed Makin Island, which was under the control of the Japanese soldiers at the time.

This raid took place barely eight months after the attack on Pearl Harbor and only a few weeks after the Battle of Corregidor. The U.S. Navy was planning on taking the fight to Imperial Japan at an island named Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.

As part of the initial assault, Carlson’s Raiders of 2nd Marine Raider Battalion were to carry out a strike on Makin Atoll in the Gilbert Islands as a diversion, drawing attention away from Guadalcanal.

Some 211 Raiders were carried to Makin by two submarines, USS Argonaut and USS Nautilus, where they came ashore in the early hours of August 17th, 1942. By the end of the day, they had defeated the Japanese garrison, destroyed two planes and sunk two of the Emperor’s boats.

Upon withdrawal the next morning, 19 fallen Marines were left behind in graves on the island. The military returned to Makin in 1999 (now known as Butaritari in the nation of Kiribati) to recover the Marines, 13 of whom are now interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

During the recovery process, a corroded M1 Garand rifle was discovered in the grave and returned to Hawaii before it was transferred to the Raiders Museum at Marine Corps Base, Quantico.

After the rifle was inspected by an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team to make sure it was not loaded, it was then transferred to the Naval History and Heritage Command’s Underwater Archaeology Branch at the Washington Navy Yard.

A plan is being formulated to treat the rifle which has been buried in wet sand in the Pacific for over 50 years, and preserve it for future generations.

We have a replica version of the M1 Garand in our airsoft gun shop, along with many other RIFs, so why not head over to our site and take a look?