The Kleptomaniac Postman


Behold Will’s most cherished possession. Eddie fashioned this grip
out of Plexiglas harvested from a downed German observation plane.

My wife’s grandfather was a hero of mine. His name was Eddie. He only finished 9th grade, but, like so many of those awesome old guys, he was absolutely brilliant. There was nothing he couldn’t build or fix. He’d originally left school to help keep his family from starving. We modern folk really have no idea.

Eddie worked for a time for the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) during the Great Depression. When that petered out, he became a self-described hobo, riding the rails looking for work.

Will Fight For Food

In 1940, he enlisted in the Army not for any particularly patriotic reasons, though he was indeed an extraordinary patriot. He became a soldier because the Army was a reliable source of food.

In short order, he found himself in North Africa. Soon thereafter, he invaded Sicily as part of Operation Husky under General Patton. With Sicily secured, he started on Italy proper. He fought past places like Rome, Monte Cassino and Anzio.

Eddie enlisted in 1940 as a Private. He left the military service in 1945 as a Master Sergeant. Nowadays, only 3% of enlisted soldiers will make Master Sergeant and then only after 17 or 18 years of service. Eddie made it in three because everybody he worked for was killed.

Guns were tools to Eddie. He knew quite a lot about them and was completely comfortable in their use but didn’t study them as I might. He did, however, have a great deal of wisdom to impart on the subject.

Eddie admired the carbine and carried one for a good part of his time in combat. He did say it often took multiple hits to put a man down with one. By contrast, he held the M1 Garand in enormous esteem. He said if you hit a man solidly most anywhere with an M1, that guy was done.

As a senior NCO, Eddie carried an M1911A1 throughout his time in combat. He fabricated a low-ride thigh extender for his standard leather hip holster. Eventually, he retrieved a shoulder rig from a wounded tanker who no longer had need of it.

Eddie brought examples of each of these weapons home from
Italy after the war. Only the tiny Beretta successfully made the trip.


When it was finally time to come home, Eddie took stock of his souvenirs. He kept the sweetheart grip he had fashioned from Plexiglas taken from a downed Fiesler Storch observation plane that bore the beaming visage of his young bride. This grip is one of my most prized possessions today.

He also had a pristine Walther P38, a .25-caliber Beretta 418, and a German MP40 submachine gun. On the trip back across the Atlantic, he used a silver dollar and a jeep battery to silver plate the P38. He then sold the gun to an Army dentist for $400 (about $6,500 today). Somebody stole the MP40 from underneath his bunk. The little Beretta made it home.

Eddie related one gun story that always made his blood boil. At one point, he came across a deuce-and-a-half truck filled to overflowing with captured German weapons. As he felt he might have need of a proper deer rifle upon his return to the World, he spent most of a day sorting through all these old military guns until he found two Mauser Kar98ks that seemed unfired. He then packaged these rifles up carefully and shipped them to himself back home.

When finally Eddie made it back to the obligatory rapturous welcome, he settled into what would now become his life. He had a daughter to acquaint himself with and a new profession to launch. As he went through records, bills, and sundry official mail, he came across the box in which he had packed his two liberated rifles. It was stamped by a post office in New Jersey and was markedly lighter than it had been when he had shipped it.

Tearing into the parcel, he found the guns gone. In their place was an official notice from the post office. It explained that the guns were indeed his to claim but that he would need to retrieve them in person from the post office that had processed the package in New Jersey. He lived in Mississippi. As he had just returned from a war zone and had not seen his family in nearly three years, this seemed fairly impractical.

Eddie forever harbored bitterness toward that nameless kleptomaniac postman. He only halfway joked that this unidentified public servant was likely very much enjoying the use of his two captured German rifles. It was no doubt an ignoble end to what should have become some simply priceless souvenirs.

Special thanks to for the cool-guy stuff used in our pictures.

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