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GUNS Magazine November 2010 - Page 98
we walK aMong heroes Every day. nyone living in a city of any size experiences the same thing A nearly every day. A glance at the obituary page shows how often and how quickly we are losing members of the Greatest Generation. Those who fought the Axis powers in WWII are now in their 80s and disappearing rapidly. My stepdad was too old to be drafted, so he enlisted and spent the last 18 months of the war as a POW who was rescued by the Allied troops. My two older cousins, heroes of mine ever since I can remember, both dropped out of high school, lied about their age, enlisted and fought in the Pacific. Of these three, only one cousin remains, and I’m happy to report he is doing exceptionally well. I remember as a very young child reading about the last Civil War veteran and his passing. Over the years, he has been followed by those from the Spanish-American War and World War I. Now, the unstoppable countdown is happening with the brave men and women of World War II. Bob Flagg was one of those. He was 89 when he passed, and I had only known him for the past 20 years or so. We were friends, yet I knew so little about him as all our contacts were relegated to two shooting situations. One was meeting at the local gun shows and the other was gathering once a robert w. Flagg 1920-2009 98 week, just the two of us, shooting at the local range. We were both members of the host club and had keys to get in on closed days, so one day a week would find us shooting together. My interest was mostly testing handguns for articles and Bob would always come to my bench to check what new handgun I had. At the same time I would journey to his shooting spot to check out his latest rifle. He managed to sniff out some of the neatest rifles! I never saw him with anything heavier than a .30-06 as he was much more inclined toward the easier shooters. One particular ’06 was a 1903 with a refinished military stock, special target sights and a heavy barrel. Bob could make that old Springfield really sing. Bob was a small, slight of stature, unassuming, friendly old man. I knew his daughter wrote for the local paper, and I often chided him about her liberal views. When I met his wife I accused him of robbing the cradle. I only later found out they had been married for over 50 years. Obviously she was older than she looked perhaps reflecting how well Bob treated her and took care of her. I knew he was ex-military, but not by much. At one time he mentioned he was already in the Army when Pearl Harbor occurred and that was about all I knew. Then one day he showed up at the range with a rifle that literally made my heart skip several beats. It was a rifle I had dreamed of and drooled over as a kid from seeing it in the Shooter’s Bible and thinking it was just about as perfect as a rifle could be. Talk about a beautiful historic rifle! This was it! It was a full-stocked Mannlicher Schoenaur carbine with the butter knife bolt handle and chambered in 6.5x54. “Oh Robert! How much did you have to pay for that beautiful little gem?” I asked. He responded it didn’t cost him anything, as he traded it for a continued on page 97 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • NOVEMBER 2010