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Some Other Marine's Trophy Case

Some Other Marine's Trophy Case

Here is another photo I found from my Beirut collection. One night on patrol I found this 9mm sub-machine gun and it was in perfect condition. I know it was stupid, (all of you reading this are cringing) but I picked it up. We found it off to the side of one of the streets in one of the small local business districts.

I was not leading the patrol, but was the machine gun team leader and we were near the front of the column if I recall correctly. I don’t know how the others missed it, but I saw it about twenty feet in front of me near the front hatch of a building. We stopped the patrol and faced outboard and I walked over with a few others and we looked it over. I went ahead and picked it up and inspected it. There was no magazine inserted and no round in the chamber. Turns out it was a British Sterling (not sure what model) with a nice, comfortable pistol grip and folding stock and it was in excellent shape, and was obviously nearly new, as you can tell from the photo. I took it back to one of our two SSGT’s stupidly thinking that they would let me keep it and send it home to my father, but they turned it over to our platoon commander who turned it over to our CO. It might have made it home into some other Marine’s trophy case, but it never made it home to mine! Semper Fi Jarheads!

Mike Kunkel
Cpl. 0331
Lima 3/8 Weapons Plt
1981-1985

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Comments

Ron Bean - July 7, 2020

Remember that incident. That’s why we always flew low over the Israeli tanks to blow crap inside of them. They had to close up or get crap inside.

Cpl . William Manning - July 7, 2020

Bad move …Good move . Yeah picking it up so it couldn’t be used against one of us ..Bad move . Bobby trapped possible.. I’m glad it worked out for you and your fellow Marines . Semper Fi…

Michael Kunkel - July 7, 2020

Bob, At that age, I was really naïve about having to pass anything through customs and was not aware of the laws governing the transferring of automatic weapons, but I knew enough to know that I would have to let my leadership know that I had the weapon in my possession, which is exactly what I did. I figured the SMG was nothing more than a found item in a war zone. There is no way I would have attempted to send that thing home via the mail without telling anyone. We did have a guy in our unit who was busted for shipping home hash he had been buying from the locals, so we all knew that the mail was being checked. But, I turned the SMG in because I thought it was the right thing to do….but I foolishly thought they would tag it somehow and then let me keep it. Oh how dumb we are at that age. Like they say, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” Semper Fi Bob. Mike Kunkel

Mike kunkel - July 7, 2020

Ron, somehow spellcheck changed “seabag” to “drabs”. But I meant to say “seabag”. Mike

Mike Kunkel - July 7, 2020

Ron, I believe you are correct. I always forget the MAU numbers and confuse my first tour with my second tour at times. To recall them I have to go to my drabs where I have all my places of travel and units written in magic marker! LOL. My CO with Lima 3/8 was Capt. Chuck Johnson. He is the one who jumped up on the Israeli tank and pulled out his .45.

Mike Kunkel - July 7, 2020

Master Guns, yes I was a squared away Marine and have always tried to follow the guidelines of the Corps and have always been reminded of the tattoo on my left forearm that reads, “USMC Death Before Dishonor.” While I really wanted to send the SMG home, it never really occurred to me that doing so was being dishonest. I just looked at it as a found item. I assumed it belonged to one of the Brits who had been at our compound but had been gone by then for several weeks. My section leader, a former DI and my PlatoonSergeant, a two tour Nam vet were first rate Marines and explained to me why I could not keep it, but until they did, I honestly thought it was perfectly legal since in my mind it was a war zone. In an earlier reply I think I said I was 19 or 20 at the time, but thinking back now I was actually 21, (not that the extra year really matters) but at that moment I was not even considering the government laws of shipping a weapon home to the US. I was simply thinking of a cool looking trophy waiting for me when I got home. Semper Fi Master Guns!

Ron Bean - July 7, 2020

I think we were in Beirut at the same. As a member of HMM 263, I deployed with the 24th MEA/MAU. We were with BLT 3/8. I delieve the first cruise was with LtCol Black Jack Matthews.

Bob Quinter - July 7, 2020

In 1970 in Viet Nam, an AK was considered a prime souvenir, but alas, the same laws against sending automatic capable weapons were in effect and we were all warned not to even try. A fellow pilot, a lieutenant, decided it was worth the risk to break an AK down into its various components and send the pieces home once at time. Shortly after sending the first piece, he was summoned to the CO’s office, subjected to non-judicial punishment; confined to his quarters for a month except for meals, flying and worship services and a letter of reprimand was placed in his permanent record, basically ending the career of what was a promising officer. A LtCol was given an AK that had been milled in half and mounted on a plague, and presented to him by the men of his unit. It was confiscated as he left country. Despite what many may think, seniority is not a blank chit for breaking the law.

Mike Kunkel - July 7, 2020

Yes and that’s what I was thinking after we got back to the compound. Like I said in an earlier reply, my primary reason for leaving it was so that it would not get into the hands of any shitheads, but then I thought about reading of all those WWII vets who brought home trophy weapons and thought it would be neat. I figured I would tell my LT and that I could send it home to my dad, but my Section Leader said it had to go to CO before I could have it, but I never saw it again . Semper Fi buddy!! Mike

Master Guns Bob - July 7, 2020

Corporal Mike: Thanks for the reply. BTW – I would have been very tempted to keep that found weapon and figure a way to get it home. On the other hand, if caught, you would have been in hurt city big time. You come across as being a squared away Marine who has remained as such. You did the right thing by turning it in … even if it did end up in the trophy room of someone else. Semper Fi, Mike. Master Guns

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