Photo: Nate Sapp via Marine Corps
Seven years ago, Marine Medal of honour recipient Col. John J. McGinty (ret.) came out to Iraq and talked to Marines about his experiences in Vietnam as an infantry platoon commander.I was a Marine combat correspondent at the time, it was the end of my deployment, and I was downright tired. Nonetheless, when I sat down with McGinty, I’d read his Medal of honour citation about 25 times.
Rare was the opportunity to talk to a living MOH recipient.
My first question was about one line of his citation which had particular weight with me:
“So your citation has a line that reads,” looking down at my notepad then, “quote — ‘When the enemy tried to out flank his position, he killed five of them at point-blank range with his pistol.’ — and I just have to ask, what’s it like to kill five guys at point-blank range with a pistol?”
McGinty chuckled then, as old men do when confronted by the zeal of their younger counterparts, then he said the obvious, “Well, hell, son, it was downright scary.”
McGinty said the enemy fighters had rounded the corner of his bunker and he turned to see them pointing their weapons at him, dead to rights. They all fired high.
“That AK, it’s got a nasty kick. And they don’t control it well if they’re just holding down the trigger,” McGinty said he drew down with his 1911 and let loose.
“Let me tell you one thing, if it weren’t for that Colt 1911, I’d be dead right now.”
McGinty told me it was his, and some other MOH recipients, personal mission to see the reinstatement of the Colt 1911 as general issue. Though they “had very little clout to throw around, believe it or not.”
Being qualified with the weapon, I have to say don’t blame him, most Marines I’d ever talked to hated the standard issue 9 mm Beretta. It’s a glorified pellet gun, as far as I’m concerned, it has no balls, no stopping power. If you’re shooting at a motivated target, and you don’t hit vitals, that target will just keep coming.
McGinty got his wish, Fox News reported that Marines have recently started to fill orders for a new 1911 .45-calibre colt pistol.
The Marines are calling it the “M45 Close Quarters Battle Pistol,” and I’m sure the Marines carrying it will have a lot more confidence in close quarters.
Now: See My Trip Into A Gunfight In Afghanistan >
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