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When I was a kid, there were always guns around. My dad was a collector, hunter, sportsman and competitor. I would go with him to all sorts of competitions, sometimes he shot on a team (the Washington Blue Rifles), dressed up in Civil War garb and shooting carbines at plates or muskets at planks with a stripe painted on it, to try and be the first team to cut the board. Man, I can still smell that black powder. I loved the big campfires at night during those times, many a Pabst Blue Ribbon were consumed in my presence.

I went with him to Camp Perry, Ohio, and we sat in the truck and listened to the report on the radio that Elvis Presley had died. I have pictures from that week, he was thin from the cancer that would take him a year later at age 42, leaving behind a wife, a daughter and me, age 15.

He wore this leather coat for shooting, and it was HOT that summer week. He shot an M-1 or M-14 without a scope, and would get so strapped in to that coat and the sling of the gun that he could barely move. 200 yards? 600 yards? Are you kidding me? Seemed nuts. I knew he was good, but really didn't fully appreciate his accomplishments until recently.

Going through some old stuff, including scores of little trophies (looked like military medals encased in plexiglass), I came across four that he had obviously regarded as more important than the others. I did some searching, I found a letter from the Army at home and some more info online and pieced together that three of the medals represented the 'legs' of the requirement for the fourth: The Distinguished Rifleman's Badge.

I remember seeing a smaller, tie-clasp version of this medal from time to time, but never heard him really talking about it. Not until I started researching this accomplishment did I really understand how impressive it was. I think in roughly a hundred years, only about 2,000 civilians have earned that award, I have the actual numbers in a file but that's in the ballpark.

So now that I've started to re-embrace my firearm roots, I really wish I would have appreciated what he did. The records for winners is spotty and the ODCMP is asking for biographical information on winners before 1983. So I do have the opportunity to honor his achievement, both by telling his story for the record, and by - in my own way - doing what he would love to see me doing: learning, practicing and enjoying shooting.
 

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Great story! There has been far more unrecognized Hero's over the years than recognized ones. Most of them didn't want recognition. They just considered it doing their job, or what they should do. I have great respect for all those that do what they know they need to do, when they need to do it. We might be a Hero in the eyes of some Child, so that is why it is so important to live our lives like we should. Don't get me wrong, I think it is great to honor the Hero's that we learn about.
 

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Your dad was indeed a gentleman marksman. There is a lot of genetics involved in outstanding marksmanship, and you just might also have that combination of hand/eye coordination, eyesight, and temperament needed to excel.

In any case, a belated tip of the bunzo hat to your dad! I’m also wondering, did you get any of his equipment?
 

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Unfortunately, due to a number of factors, I didn't get anything of his. It was a bad time as you might imagine, he got screwed by his insurance company and my Mom needed money. He had a lot of friends who were willing (even anxious) to "help" her out by buying up his collection. But a trusted friend was put in charge to make sure fair prices were given. And, like so many other things, I didn't appreciate what he had. Sadly, I didn't care if I ever saw or shot a gun again. Fifteen years old and angry. There was reloading equipment, lots of stuff. All gone.

But my favorite, aesthetically, was his Model 94. He left that to his cousin, who died a few years ago and his wife recently sent it back to me. So that gun, having traveled so far for so long to end up back in my hands, is cherished. Foolish behavior in the past can't be taken back, but maybe you're right, bunzo, maybe he left me something that couldn't be sold.
 

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EddieF,
Thanks for sharing, I admit that I didn't cherish the many things that my father tried to teach me, and impart to me, also. That was a great generation that has passed by. Glad you do have a memento of him in the Model 94. Again thanks for sharing, as it is a deeply touching story.
peace
 
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