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Information about my TD

Posted by Jeff on Thursday, 28 April 2011, at 11:26 a.m.

This is a long post but please read and consider. Though I’m not getting any younger, my career in the Air Force still represents the majority of my professional experience. In those 20 years, I had occasion to officially take possession or release possession of government property. The exchange of possession of this property was an exchange in the responsibility for this property. This included the maintenance of its condition as well as its security. Many people write in to this forum in the hope of learning about the weapon they’ve just recently acquired. Those collectors and shooters who write in for the first time ask the basic common questions: “I just inherited this rifle/carbine and would like to know some history about it: Who had my rifle? Who was issued my rifle? To what unit was my rifle issued?” The data contained in the SIS/SRS (?) Springfield Information Service/Research Service(?) provides information on a very small percentage of those weapons actually produced and those which saw service in the field. This fact might lead one to believe that Springfield Armory and the U.S. Army accountability, inventory and records keeping was shoddy or worse, non-existent. Springfield Armory stamped serial numbers into the metal of the receiver for each and every weapon it manufactured. Stamping into that steel made it very difficult to remove or change that number. Though, as we know, they did not necessarily assemble each receiver into a firearm in serial-numbered order, it is reasonable to believe that Springfield stamped serial numbers on their weapons so that when they left the armory, individuals and units at the user level could use these numbers to maintain accountability. When those weapons left Springfield, someone was responsible…if not for each weapon specifically, then at least for a certain number of crates of rifles and carbines. So when a shipment of carbines and rifles arrived on wagons at a post out west, it would be only reasonable that the responsibility for these shipments would be transferred from one individual to another. That would mean the creation of a document attesting to t he transfer of responsibility of government property from one individual to another. The person accountable at this point would remove the weapons from the crates, inspect each one and count the number of weapons and secure them in a locked room or secure area. If I were that person, I would at that point annotate all of the serial numbers. John D. McAulay in his book “Rifles of the US Army 1861-1906” , pg 132, 2nd paragraph states: “On the march, Private Main of Company “G”, 6th Infantry, was suffering from an old war gunshot wound to the thigh. To keep up with the other soldiers, he threw away his rifle, serial number 12,765. When he went back to look for it, he could not find it. Because of his actions, Private Main was charged $15.90 for the cost of the rifle and 60 cents for the gun sling.” McAulay’s excerpt strongly indicates that someone back at post was maintaining some semblance of accountability as weapons were being issued to soldiers. What was the policy or army regulation with regards to weapons issue to individual soldiers? When a soldier was given a weapon, was he issued any random weapon he was handed and only for the duration of that specific assignment? Or was he issued a weapon on a longer term basis? Did the ordnance officers on post maintain serial numbered accountability? Does there remain more work to be done in regards to looking for historical records of accountability? During my years in the military, we were very strict about equipment accountability. Though times were different, I can’t help but think perhaps there’s an untapped resource somewhere that could give us a much larger data base of weapons issue for those folks who write in to the bulletin board. Comments please.


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