Ask the Expert

Coins have iconic place in military and beyond

In recent years, one of the most popular military collectibles has been the “challenge coin.” Generally the size of a silver dollar, it comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, with each coin being unique and specific to an individual unit or organization. Challenge coins are usually presented by a military unit’s commander as a show of appreciation for […]
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Celebrating a game-changing rifle

General George Patton called it, “The greatest battle implement ever devised.” Recalling his Army basic training at the end of World War II, my father, Steve A. Corbo, said, “It weighed 9-1/2 pounds the first mile and 109-1/2 pounds every mile after that.” Both were referring to the .30 caliber M1 Garand, the standard battle rifle of the United States […]
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The evolution of a bayonet

When the United States entered World War II, most of its military was still equipped with the WW I era, bolt-action M-1903 Springfield rifle, accompanied by the M-1905 bayonet. Military doctrine of the First World War dictated “over the top” charges by mass infantry formations, closing with the enemy and engaging in close-quarter hand-to-hand combat. The bayonet designed for use […]
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Drawing a bead on a vintage enemy rifle

Visitors to the Italian American Veterans Museum often comment on the rifle we feature in our Souvenirs of War exhibit. It’s a weapon brought back from World War II by U.S. Army Pfc. John Filetti and graciously donated to our museum. This vintage firearm is a Japanese Type 38 rifle in caliber 6.5 mm. These were adopted by the Japanese […]
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WW II’s version of emails from the front

One of the most important events in military life is mail from home! This is never more crucial than in time of war, with troops serving overseas and in harm’s way. The effect mail has on morale can often be the difference between success and failure. With millions of US troops overseas during WW ll, delivery of the mail was […]
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Why does that helmet look so familiar?

After using the same helmet through three major wars and for more than 40 years, the U.S. Armed Forces made a radical switch in the early ’80s. That’s when they introduced the Personal Armor System for Ground Troops, or PASGT helmet. Molded from a more shrapnel-resistant Kevlar, as opposed to steel, the new combat headgear offered additional protection by covering […]
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Targeting an iconic sidearm

Perhaps the most recognizable and iconic pistol of all time is the Pistole Parabellum, or German P 08, commonly referred to as the Luger. Originally developed by Austrian gun designer George Luger in 1898, it was adopted by the German Military in 1908, hence the nomenclature “P” for Pistole and “08” for the year. A true testimony to German engineering, […]
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Long-forgotten souvenirs of war

Military service seems to create a penchant for collecting wartime souvenirs. When conventional armies fought each other, there was an ample supply of enemy equipment and memorabilia to bring back from the battlefront. But the Vietnam War played out differently. The United States didn’t face a highly standardized and universally equipped enemy. The availability of “war trophies,” or “battlefield pickups,” […]
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Badges of skill and courage

My Uncle Carl Maffia was born on New Year’s Eve 1926 in Chicago. A graduate of Crane Tech High School, he entered the Army in March 1945. As an 18-year-old draftee, he was destined for the infantry, to be used in the final drive to defeat Germany and Japan. Before heading overseas, Maffia joined the ranks of a small group […]
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Venditti earned rare honor decades after D-Day

Louis Venditti’s combat exploits began on June 6, 1944, when he parachuted into France with the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division in the pre-dawn hours of D-Day. By war’s end, he had a chest full of medals, including four Battle Stars for his participation in four major European campaigns, and two Invasion Arrowheads on his European Theatre of […]
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