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M1 Garand from Makin Island WWII Raid Being Preserved

Researchers are working to preserve this M1 Garand found buried with fallen Marines. 

The M1 Garand is arguably the most iconic rifle of World War II and some of them, like this one, would have some stories to tell if they could speak.

Found in 1999 off Makin Island, this rusty rifle is encrusted in concretions and other heavy surface damage. But the Naval History and Heritage Command Archaeology Branch have announced they are now working to preserve this amazing find.

160817-N-PM781-003 WASHINGTON (Aug. 17, 2016) An M1 Garand rifle used by U.S. Marine Corps Raiders during the World War II attack on Japanese military forces on Makin Island is at Naval History and Heritage Command’s (NHHC) Underwater Archaeology Branch. Due to the rifle’s significant surface concretions, corrosion and other physical damage, NHHC Underwater Archaeology Branch is performing an assessment of the artifacts stability. (U.S. Navy photo by Arif Patani/Released)
U.S. Navy

The rifle was likely lost by a marine during the August 17-18, 1942 raids of Makin Island. Marines actually helped provide a distraction for the 1st Marine Division, which was busy at the much more well-known allied landing at Guadalcanal.

During the fight at Makin, Marines worked to destroy the Japanese military stores and communication points according to a press release from the Navy. In all, 19 Marines lost their lives in the raid. They were buried together on the island, but the rifle was found during a POW/MIA accounting expedition to the island in 1999.

160817-N-PM781-001 WASHINGTON (Aug. 17, 2016) Kate Morrand, an archaeological conservator at Naval History and Heritage Command’s (NHHC) Underwater Archaeology Branch, displays an M1 Garand rifle used by U.S. Marine Corps Raiders during the World War II attack on Japanese military forces on Makin Island. Due to the rifle’s significant surface concretions, corrosion and other physical damage, NHHC Underwater Archaeology Branch is performing an assessment of the artifacts stability. (U.S. Navy photo by Arif Patani/Released)
U.S. Navy

When researchers excavated the grave to bring the fallen Marines back to the U.S., they also found the M1 buried with them.

The iconic rifle with an unknown past is now in NHHC’s lab at Washington Navy Yard where they are documenting its current state as they determine how to preserve it long-term.

No word on where this rifle may end up once it has been preserved yet. But let’s hope it’s put on display not just because of the iconic nature of the rifle, but for the men who carried it into battle and gave the ultimate sacrifice.

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M1 Garand from Makin Island WWII Raid Being Preserved