As we have read and heard a 100 times the 1911 is a 100 years old this year. Here is some history on that iconic pistol, And some of the brave men who have used and died using this pistol.
Any complete history of the Model 1911 must start a decade or more before that legendary year, and half a world away in the Philippines. It was here in the tropical heat of those islands that US Soldiers and Marines found themselves locked in combat with fanatic local insurgents and the immediate need for an effective, large caliber defensive pistol became sorely evident.
In the wake of the sinking of the battleship USS Maine in Havana harbor in February of 1898, the United States went to war with Spain. Along with an invasion of Cuba, US Navy forces engaged, routed and destroyed the Spanish fleet at Manila Bay in March 1898, in one of the most lop-sided victories in naval history. US ground forces then went ashore to overthrow the Spanish colonial government and occupy the islands.
Continuing the armed resistance they had previously shown against the Spanish, the Moro tribesmen of the southern islands (reportedly fueled by a dangerous combination of religious zealotry, ardent tribalism and potent opiates) engaged the American forces in a long bout of guerrilla warfare that ultimately lasted nearly 15 years. Much of the combat was at close quarters, where the Moros’ long-bladed kris knives were used to lethal effect.
At the time US troops were armed with either .30 caliber Krag or Springfield bolt-action rifles and .38 caliber double-action revolvers. While the .30 caliber rifles proved effective in stopping the attackers, the US troop’s handguns demonstrated an unnerving lack of stopping power, resulting in numerous reports of Moro warriors absorbing multiple pistol bullets while they continued to hack away at the Americans. Obviously the US troops’ morale suffered badly in this situation.
The combat pistol situation became so acute that old stocks of Model 1873 Colt revolvers in 45 caliber, many of which dated back to the Plains Indian Wars were returned to active service, where they quickly demonstrated a much better track record of stopping an attacker with one well-placed shot.
The battlefield experience against the Moros resulted in the famous Thompson-LeGarde tests by the US Military in 1904. In these tests a variety of military cartridges of the day were tested for their penetration, ‘stopping ability’ and energy transfer, using both live and dead cattle at the target medium. While somewhat subjective by modern standards, the tests resulted in an official recommendation “…that a bullet, which will have the shock effect and stopping effect at short ranges necessary for a military pistol or revolver, should have a caliber not less than .45."
This was written by Scott Engen for more on this you can go to the websight. The History of the 1911 Pistol
The first Medal awarded to a .45 ACP man went to 1st/Lt. William B. Turner of the 27th Division’s 105th Regiment. In a night action on Sept. 27, 1918, Turner rushed a German machine gun, which opened fire on his group, and he killed the crew with his pistol. Then he pressed forward to another machine gun post 25 yards away and killed one gunner before the rest of his detachment arrived to put the gun out of action. Turner continued leading his men over three lines of hostile trenches, cleaning up each one in turn. Despite repeated wounds, he pressed the attack, and after his .45 ammunition was exhausted, he picked up a rifle and bayoneted several enemies in hand-to-hand encounters. He then organized a counterattack until he was finally surrounded and killed.
Murvaux, France, Sept. 29, 1918. The blazing remains of three German observation balloons had barely settled to earth when their assailant force-landed in the gathering dusk. Second Lieutenant Frank Luke had taken off against orders and undoubtedly would be court-martialed upon return to the 27th Aero Squadron, but that was far from his mind. He had enjoyed a record string— 18 enemy aircraft destroyed in as many days. But now, wounded by German anti-aircraft fire, he landed his SPAD fighter, climbed from the cockpit, drew his service pistol, and chambered the first round. Losing blood and alone behind enemy lines, he hefted the Colt and perhaps took comfort from its familiar weight. The 21-year-old Arizonan was expert with the Model of 1911 U.S. Army, and he intended to use it. Members of the German garrison grabbed their Mausers and advanced toward the SPAD. But Luke, the hot-headed aviator, was in no mood to surrender. When he thought he heard movement in the brush near a stream, he fired three rounds. Members of the German garrison grabbed their Mausers and advanced toward the SPAD. But Luke, the hot-headed aviator, was in no mood to surrender. When he thought he heard movement in the brush near a stream, he fired three rounds. Moments later Luke was dead, Colt in hand, a long way from the reality of Phoenix and the heritage of Tombstone. After the Great War, which ended six weeks later, he received a posthumous Medal of Honor.
Two of the most remarkable M1911 actions came in the Marianas in June and July 1944. The Army’s 27th Division, stalled in its advance on Saipan, met determined Japanese defenses in depth. Private Thomas A. Baker of the same regiment as Lt. Turner in 1918 had received a Medal nomination for his courage and initiative in reducing enemy bunkers during June. By July 7 he was a sergeant manning a perimeter attacked by thousands of Japanese from three sides. Though wounded, Baker remained on the line, fired his rifle empty, and then used it as a club. Baker declined the chance to be evacuated in the forced withdrawal, saying he did not want to slow his men’s progress. He asked to be left with the last ammunition available—an M1911 containing eight rounds.
The citation said, “When last seen alive, Sgt. Baker was propped against a tree, pistol in hand, calmly facing the foe. Later Sgt. Baker’s body was found in the same position, gun empty, with eight Japanese lying dead before him.”
An M1911 action fought against appalling odds occurred near Basancon, France, on Sept. 7, 1944. Manning a 3rd Division observation post, Technician 5th Grade Robert D. Maxwell and two other soldiers were armed only with pistols due to the weight of field telephones and wire spools they carried. Thus, the Americans were vastly outgunned when a German platoon assaulted the position, supported by automatic weapons. The attackers must have been confident of success as they advanced within 10 yards of the observation post, but the three G.I.s used their Colts to prevent the enemy from coming closer. However, a German tossed a grenade into the position. Maxwell instantly grasped a heavy blanket and threw himself on the grenade before it exploded, preventing harm to his men. The enemy withdrew, and though badly wounded, Maxwell miraculously survived.
An event eerily reminiscent of Sgt. Turner’s posthumous action on Saipan occurred in June 1951. Private First Class Jack Hanson, a 20-year-old Mississippian, volunteered to cover the withdrawal of four wounded men from his squad. When his platoon counterattacked, his body was found with machine gun ammunition expended, his right hand grasping an M1911 with the slide locked back, and a bloody machete in his left hand. More than 20 enemy bodies were found nearby.
The last Korean War M1911 award went to Cpl. Dan D. Schoonover, an engineer of the 7th Infantry Division. He was decorated for a three-day action in July 1953, the month the armistice was signed. After extraordinary heroics in reducing enemy bunkers, Schoonover was killed while defending his position successively with a Browning machine gun, a BAR, and finally his pistol.
During the Vietnam War, pistols were perhaps best known in the esoteric role of “tunnel rat” wherein single soldiers squirmed into Viet Cong tunnels too small for anything but a handgun. Of the seven Medal of Honor pistol actions in Vietnam, three were performed by leathernecks. The most notable occurred in July 1966 when Staff Sgt. John J. McGinty of the 3rd Marine Division single-handedly re-established contact with a missing squad, saw North Vietnamese flanking the squad, and killed five NVA with his Colt.
One of the most remarkable Medals of Honor in any war involved a tank driver. In January 1968, Sp5 Dwight H. Johnson’s “track” became immobilized in an ambush. He dismounted, emptied his M1911’s magazines in killing several North Vietnamese, then returned to his Patton for a submachine gun and carried a casualty to safety. Next he employed the main gun on the platoon leader’s tank, used his pistol again, and finally a Browning .50 cal. For variety of arms in a single MOH action, Johnson undoubtedly sets the record. However, barely three years later he was killed during a robbery in his hometown of Detroit.
Somalia and Afghanistan
In Mogadishu, Somalia, on Oct. 3, 1993, two Delta Force snipers volunteered for insertion near the wreckage of a downed helicopter. Master Sgt. Gary I. Gordon and SFC Randall D. Shughart were landed 100 meters from an UH-60 Black Hawk shot down by Somali warlords. Crash survivors were completely isolated and in danger of being overrun by hordes of Somalis, but Gordon and Shughart insisted on trying to cover the rescue attempt. With their long rifles of limited use in the crowded, narrow streets, they used their Colts as necessary until reaching the helicopter and fired most of their ammunition. When Shughart was fatally wounded, Gordon retrieved a carbine with five rounds from the wreck, gave it to the injured pilot and said, “Good luck.” He then continued firing his M1911 until killed. The Black Hawk pilot survived capture and eventually was released.
Thus far all the Medals of Honor awarded in the war against terrorism have been posthumous—although at the time of this writing a very much alive S/Sgt. Salvatore Giunta is poised to be bestowed with America’s highest combat honor for his valor in Afghanistan.
I got all this information from
The U.S. M1911 & The Medal of Honor
Here is web sight of a list of men who have recieved the Medal of Honor using the 1911.http://www.americanrifleman.org/Webcontent/pdf/external/20101217141648-medalofhonor_table.pdf
All i did was copy and paste these words are not mine i just wanted to share some of my web browsing with all of you i found it a leaning experince.