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GUNS Magazine November 2010 - Page 20
• MASSAD AYOOB • This particular 1911 represented more than a rite of passage for one young soldier. andguns have always been woven into the fabric of American H military history. George Washington’s flintlock pistols; the capand-ball revolvers that made cavalry so effective during the War the US Army through ROTC at FSU, was slated to enter Army Aviation training and thence, no doubt, overseas. At about that time, he married the lovely Anna Gunter, also 22. Some young fiancées might have had to think about a wedding gift for their husband. For Anna, there was no doubt. The youngest in a “shooting family,” she had literally grown up with a gun in her hand, and Justin had been absorbed into the responsible gun world through her. He had already acquired his own handguns and become skilled with them—he was licensed to carry a 9mm Glock, and had bought a Beretta 92FS to practice for the day he would inevitably be issued an identical M9. Anna asked Justin what pistol he would most like to acquire. His answer came without hesitation: “A 1911 .45 ACP!” It should not have been a surprise. Though the 9mm Beretta had replaced the 1911 before he was born as General Issue, the iconic .45 was a gun Justin had always associated with the military he had wanted to become a part of since childhood. From its eponymous year, to the year he could expect to be fighting on foreign soil, it had been an icon of the Army for a century. Even after the adoption of the Beretta, the 1911 had remained a standby to this day for two entities within the United States Army: Delta Force, and the pistol teams. A HANdGUN FOR A SOldiER Between the States; and the pistol or revolver Gen. Pershing wanted in WWI on the hip of every doughboy in the trenches. Personal handguns were also prized in WWII, most famously the ivoryhandled Colt Single Action Army .45 and Smith & Wesson .357 magnum of Gen. George Patton. In korea, and later in Vietnam, the most cherished possession of many soldiers was a sidearm often sent from home: then-new stainless steel S&W .38s were as much appreciated in the humid delta as among stateside cops. Today, our armed forces are deeply embroiled in a 2-theater war, and judging by photos from the fronts, Beretta M9 pistols are being very widely issued to supplement the M4 carbine. Constant house-clearing in one theater and cave-searching in the other has led to them being used more heavily than in most other 20th Century conflicts, according to anecdotal reports. This is the story of one newlyminted Army officer, and the handgun given to him by the woman who loves him. One Special Pistol Justin Schortmann, 22, graduated from Florida State University, and commissioned a Second Lieutenant in Not Permitted? Justin didn’t expect his MOS to change to either of those. And he knew the Army no longer permitted personal weapons to be carried in combat zones. He wanted that gun simply as a symbol of the honorable profession he had chosen. For Anna, that was reason enough. Among Anna’s “extended (shooting) family” could be found virtually every brand and configuration of 1911 .45, from economy models to theKimberCustomShop.45presentedtoJustinSchortmannbyhiswifeAnna.Detailsinclude rosewoodMicartastocks,flaredmagwell,beavertailgripsafety,ambisafetyandfixednight sights.OnthispersonalizedKimberGoldCombatStainlessII(inset),the“II”designationindicates internalfiringpinsafety,renderingtheKimberdrop-safeinthemosthostileenvironments.OneoffnameengravingisoneofthefewthingsnotavailablethroughCustomShop. 20 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • NOVEMBER 2010