90-Year-Old Marine Reunited With His WWII M1 Garand 73 Years Later

The Palm Beach Daily News reports that local resident Dick Cowell was 18-years-old when he enlisted into the United States Marine Corps, back when World War II was in full swing. During his service Mr. Cowell was issued uniforms, equipment and a rifle. A Springfield Armory-made U.S. rifle, caliber .30, M1, serial number 3594593 to be exact.

The rifle, his sergeant told him, was now his girlfriend, his wife and his friend. The recruit had to take it everywhere, he was told. And he should never, ever call it a gun — unless he wanted to stand naked in front of his company. It was a mistake he only made once.

Mr. Cowell comes from a family of military men. His father served in The Great War and his great-grandfather fought in the Battle of Bull Run during the War between the States. While Mr. Cowell’s 46-year-old son, Richard, didn’t serve, instead he became the family historian and works to honor his father’s legacy, not just on Veterans Day but every day.

Richard Cowell spent six months hunting down the rifle after finding a white piece of paper with the word “Springfield” written in cursive followed by the serial number “3594593” in his father’s desk. Finding a specific service rifle after 73 is like finding a needle in a haystack mind you.

After WWII, the United States handed out M1 Garands like candy to nations all over the world has lend lease, foreign aid, and direct sales. Denmark, Vietnam, Italy, and Guatemala are just a few of the countries over the years that have gotten rifles. So the chance that Mr. Cowell’s rifle was still in the US was a slim chance.

But luck shined upon Richard and he found his father’s rifle. He found the rifle on GunBroker.com in New Jersey of all places. A gun collector was selling it, and after Richard outbid a tough competitor, the rifle was his.

In late October, Mr. Cowell’s 11-year-old grandson, Tommy, presented him with the rifle.

Mr. Cowell, ever the Marine, remembered his training and time with his rifle. From the days he took part in target practice on the range to walking down Fifth Avenue in NYC when the war end. Mr. Cowell of course being a Marine was and still is a rifleman first and foremost and his actions speak for themselves.

The M1 Garand now sits in Mr. Cowell’s office where the 90 year old Marine teaches his grandson about firearms safety and days gone by. But the best part of this is said best by Tommy’s mother.

“It’s been such a bonding thing for all of them,” said Erin Cowell, Richard’s wife. “Every little boy loves a soldier. And for Tommy, his grandpa is his soldier.”


  1. avatar surlycmd says:

    Waaayyy cool!

  2. avatar Eric says:

    It’s a touching story but technically Richard broke the law by purchasing the gun with the intent to give it to someone else. I don’t think he has to worry about being prosecuted though. Public opinion would definitely be on his side.

    1. avatar Danny Griffin says:

      No he didn’t. Gifts are perfectly legal. Sheesh. So many people don’t understand what a straw buyer is.

      1. avatar Tom Watts says:

        That’s right!

    2. avatar GunDoc says:

      Eric, clearly you don’t know much about firearms law.

      Buying a firearm for someone else (called a “gift”) is done all the time. It is perfectly legal. The above story is perhaps the best example of a gift.

      A “straw purchase” is when a non-prohibited person purchases a firearm with the intention of giving or selling to a prohibited person.

      Brush up.

      1. avatar Danny Griffin says:

        Actually you don’t even need to be a prohibited person. You just supply the money for someone else to buy a gun for you. Stupid, but that’s the way the law is written, the ATF has prosecuted people for it, and the Supreme Court has upheld those convictions.

        1. avatar Kroglikepie says:

          Correction, it is not the way the law is written, but *interpreted*. Straw purchasing is only meant to be directed againt prohibited purchasers, but has been stretched like so many other laws to ensare as many law abiding citizens as possible. And thechnically, the way the courts have ruled it, paying someone back for a firearm is legal, supplying any money ahead of time is illegal. Friggin’ retarded -__-

        2. avatar Danny Griffin says:

          The law does not state that it only applies to prohibited persons.

        3. avatar don from ct says:

          The law is silent about wither it applies to anyone or just PPs. However, there was a recent supreme court case in 2014, Abramski v United States, where a son who was a LEO was convicted because he took his father’s money and bought a discounted Glock for his father.


        4. avatar Joel says:

          The LEO son should have been convicted. Because he lied about the purchase. Glock doesn’t give LEO discounts to friends and family members. Only to LEO. That and it’s not a gift if the receiver of the ‘gift’ shells out money for said ‘gift’.

        5. avatar Kroglikepie says:

          Mr. Griffin, that’s my point. The law as it is written doesn’t function as intended and allows prosecutions for nebulous definitions of being an “agent”. It’s all a bunch of bull.

        6. avatar Danny Griffin says:

          The states–and fed–are full of poorly written laws. Michigan is a prime example.

    3. avatar ColoradoKid says:

      Sorry, no law broken. Immediate family can ‘gift’ firearms.

      1. avatar Danny Griffin says:

        Anyone can gift a firearm. Doesn’t have to be immediate family.

        1. avatar dlj95118 says:

          …state dependent, it is.

    4. avatar Mercury says:

      That’s a common misconception. A straw purchase, legally speaking, is when the buyer is acting as an agent for a third party, whether the third party is exchanging goods, money or nothing at all for it (and whether or not the third party is a prohibited person). The way in which this differs from a gift is that the buyer of a gift is not directly an agent of the recipient of the gift. Even if you know it’s an item he or she wants, buying that item still isn’t a straw purchase because you, the buyer, are the intended user of the gun — the use in question is just as a gift.

      There are two important caveats to this though.

      1: If the recipient of a genuine gift is a prohibited person, because of strict liability the onus is on you to prove you didn’t know. While still not a straw purchase, giving a gun to a prohibited person is a crime of its own and will likely be used to attempt to prosecute you for a straw purchase as well even if it wasn’t.

      2: If the person you’re giving it to specifically asks you to go somewhere and buy a particular gun for them, that’s technically a straw purchase even if you regard the exchange as a gift. Now the prosecutor would still have to prove you were asked to do it, as in any straw purchase charge, but if your wife texts you she saw a Bersa Thunder at the Cabela’s down the road and she wants you to buy it for her birthday, that text could potentially be used to prosecute you if you did so. You’d likely win in a jury trial, but it would still technically be valid grounds to be charged with the crime.

      IANAL, this is not legal advice, CYA etc. etc.

      1. avatar kevin says:

        Damn, you all know how to suck the fun out of a good story. All trying to be the smartest guy in the room.

        1. avatar Sad Trombone says:

          Exactly ! STFU and just be happy for the old war veteran. Sheesh !

        2. avatar Robby says:


        3. avatar Tom Watts says:

          LOL Right!

  3. avatar Gregolas says:

    What a marvelous story! A great tribute to one who gave his faithful service to our country. Semper Fi, Mr. Cowell!

    1. avatar BLoving says:

      Y’all excuse me a moment… bit of a lump in my throat right now… 🤠

      1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

        Yeah. Must be dust in the air too.

        1. avatar Mark L. says:

          Bloody allergies.

  4. avatar James Earl Hoffa says:

    Absolutely awesome story, and very amazing that his son was able to find that for him.

  5. avatar SkyMan77 says:

    The hands always remember the rifle…

    Great story…

  6. avatar Phil L. says:

    Came here to see if anyone included “Get off my lawn.”

    Didn’t see it, so here you go:

    Get off my lawn.

    And Mr. Cowell looks every bit as tough as Clint. Awesome story.

  7. avatar Manny Amend says:

    An old flame came back into his life.

  8. avatar Ogre says:

    Great story! Finding the exact same M1 rifle his dad had after 70+ years and getting it for him. What are the odds? Semper Fi, Marine! And a loud shout-out for his son – outstanding job!

  9. avatar bobinmi says:

    Seems to me that Mr. Cowell needs to teach his wife a lesson on the difference between a Marine and a soldier. I might have lost my sh!t after that. Semper Fi sir.

    1. avatar Felix says:

      Sir?!? Being a rifleman and sharpshooter, odds are against having been an officer. I bet he knows who his parents are too.

  10. avatar Ranger Rick says:

    The “Feel Good Story of the Werk”!!

  11. avatar AFGus says:

    I’d be interested to know what his final bid was to win the purchase. The M1 looks to be in very good condition. I’ll bet it was a pretty penny.

    1. avatar BLoving says:

      That is why some things are called “priceless”, because we can’t put a dollar value on them.

      1. avatar AFGus says:

        Obviously this particular rifle wasn’t priceless and did ultimately have a price, as he “outbid a tough competitor” on Gun Broker to win it. 😉

  12. avatar VF 1777 says:

    Best RIFLE story of the year!

    I salute the Marine and his entire family. Simply awesome end to end.

  13. avatar KENNETH G MAIDEN says:

    What a touching story.

  14. avatar BLAMMO says:

    I wonder how on earth anyone could possibly go about doing this.

    First of all, is there any record of which specific rifle, by SN is issued to a specific soldier, marine, etc. by name? Secondly, even if you know what rifle you’re looking for, by SN, how do you possibly go about finding its current status or location? Most sellers don’t include serial numbers in auctions.

    I have a CMP Special Grade that was completely re-armored. It’s like a new rifle. Beautiful and a real shooter. A lot of Garand owners prefer a Service Grade, or the like because the rifle has “a preserved history”. But if you don’t know what that history is, what’s the point?

    The only rifle with “a history” I’d be interested in is the one my father carried through Belgium in the 106th ID before he was captured in the Battle of the Bulge. But fat chance. Aside from the fact it was probably destroyed by Ze Germans.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      At that point of the war the ze germans were scarfing up any and all functional weapons and vehicles they could lay their mitts. Last ditch units were issued a mish mash of weapons taken from all ze german’s conquests.

      There’s a better than even chance your daddy’s m1, if it wasn’t kept by the germans that captured him, was used by a 12 yo boy or 60yo man to defend Berlin from the Reds.

      Points for the ‘Snatch” reference, by the way.

      1. avatar BLAMMO says:

        Those Guy Ritchie movies are some of the funniest shit I’ve ever seen.

  15. avatar MyName says:

    Semper Fi, Devil Dog and Thank you.

  16. avatar Greg in Allston says:

    Wonderful, even awesome, story. This story made my day. This kind of thing is just one of the many things that I love about this country. God bless America and Semper Fucking Fi Mr. Cowell.

  17. avatar former water walker says:

    GREAT story!

  18. avatar Old Guy in Montana says:

    Earlier this year I took delivery of a CMP M1 Garand. I took it next door to show my 93 yo neighbor. While holding it he rattled off a 7-digit number. I said “what?”..he replied that was the number of his WWII issue rifle. I guess I looked a bit doubtful and he followed up with “you don’t know the tricks and punishments the Sergeants used to make sure you remembered that number forever…”

  19. avatar rswartze says:

    So well timed with the Marine Corp. birthday and Veteran’s Day.

    Price be damned, I hope he got it on discount. I would have given it free for that story!

    1. avatar rswartze says:

      i.e. ‘sold it for free’

  20. avatar Hoyden says:

    Impala, the M1 of the car world? Great story.


  21. avatar SparkyInWI says:

    From former Army, Semper Fi Marine and thank you for your service! And what a great family treasure they have now.

  22. avatar Mikial says:

    Okay, so a combat vet here and this choked me up. So damn cool! My father was a soldier in the 5th Army in WWII, and though I can never find the rifle he carried, I did manage to acquire an M1 Garand manufactured by Remington Rand in 1943 that I will cherish as a reminder of him along with the flag from his coffin.

    God bless you, Mr. Cowell. Once a Marine, always a Marine. Enjoy!

  23. avatar Robby says:

    My Father wasn’t in to guns, and didn’t talk much about being in WWII.
    When I was a kid, he took me to a gun show. (Only way to stop my incessant begging)
    Dad was bored, until we came across a table of M1 Carbines, he stopped dead in his tracks.
    He ask to see every Carbine the man had. After 3 or 4, the man ask what are you looking for?
    Dad said MY Carbine! and rattled of string of numbers. The man said, none of these are stolen!
    Dad said, I didn’t say they were, I’m looking for the Carbine I carried in the war.
    That was in 1970. We looked for his Carbine, every chance we could, but never found it.
    Dad died last year.
    Mr. Cowell more than earned that rifle.

  24. avatar Robby says:

    Hey Devil pups, and the uninitiated.
    I’m just a former Hollywood, “Pepsi Generation” Marine,
    but, really, not shit, here’s some straight dope.
    When WWII Marines tell someone “Semper Fi” they mean “Fuck You buddy, I’ve got mine”.
    I learned this, while drinking with a bunch of Chesty Puller’s WWII Marines when I joined
    The Marine Corps League. I said “Semper Fi” to a friend in front “The Old Breed” and
    they all got a good laugh, and then clued me in.
    They kept chuckling, and asking me what’s
    wrong with you Kids today?
    One of the best times I have ever had.
    Once a Marine always a Marine.

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