A .45 From the Sky

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Paratrooper Jack Agnew was one of the members of a demolitions platoon with the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (part of the 101st Airborne Division). Jumping into Normandy on D-Day, Agnew and other paratroopers had shaved their heads into fierce "Mohawk" haircuts in preparation for their assault on Europe. This Springfield Armory-made M1911 semi-automatic pistol was part of his armament for the parachute drop.

As part of the "Band of Brothers" immortalized by historian Steven Ambrose, Agnew's team was in Pathfinder training in England when American forces were surrounded at the Battle of Bastogne.

Volunteering to parachute in and guide supply planes into the area, Agnew and his unit successfully made the descent under miserable weather conditions and relayed coordinates to aircraft supplying the besieged American forces with vitally needed ammunition, food and medical equipment.

Throughout the war, this .45 was never far from Jack Agnew's hands and today can be seen as part of the "Arsenal of Democracy" exhibition in the NRA's National Firearms Museum. This special exhibit presents many historic guns of World War II that "were there," and the stories of their owners.

Reprinted from America's 1st Freedom, February 2006.