First off, I never knew Uncle Homer. I knew his brother Freddy. Freddy was like another dad to me. I even called him UNCLE Freddy just to give him a rash. He enjoyed it.
Freddy flew B-17's and spent two years in Germany as a guest of the Reich. Homer was a USN SeaBee. Homer went through the Pacific "island hopping" campaign. He was a USN Radioman 2nd Class.
When Homer got out of the Navy at the end of the war, he forgot to turn in his rifle.
After WII surplus planes were plentiful. Freddy bought 2 Stearman trainers and two BT-13 trainers. The BT-13's were unflyable but all he wanted was the engines and brakes off of them to put on the Stearmans. The Stearman had a 220hp Continental engine and the BT13 had a 450hp Pratt and Whitney and a LOT bigger and better brakes and wheels. A 450-HP Stearman is only marginally faster than a stock one but it will lift a LOT bigger load. Freddy and Homer were now in the crop dusting business. Homer was ground support and Freddy and another guy did the flying. In 1952, Freddy rigged the planes to spray rather than dust. This was cutting edge back then and he wanted a picture of a plane in action. Homer grabbed the camera and said he'd do the photog work. Freddy was making a pass over a cotton field with his wheels clipping the tops of the plants. Apparently Homer waited just a bit too long to snap the picture and the left main mount took his head off. Freddy found out what had happened several hours later when Homer didn't show back up.
I got my pilot's license in '93. Freddy was a lot of help and we burned a lot of avgas without ever leaving the hangar. Freddy was "Pappy" Spinks right hand man when Pappy was building skids for Bell Huey's during the Nam years.
Pappy was Hell of guy and I'm proud to have know his crusty old arse too but that is another story.
Freddy come down with liver cancer in late '97. We buried him in early in '98. He went fast which was a blessing. He told his lovely wife, Mary, before he died, to ask me if I would sell off his gun collection. She did and I did. Freddy didn't have any idea how much his guns were worth. Mary told me to take all the time I needed or sell 'em off in a hurry, she didn't care. I took my time and got top dollar on most everything he had. Mary nearly fainted when I put the cash on her table about three months later. She expected to see three or four hundred dollars and I laid out a bit shy of 10 grand. When Freddy was released from the Stalag, they were allowed to gather up some guns that had been confiscated from the Germans. He got some NICE stuff.
When that deal was done I was drinking one of her beers and she said that there was another gun behind the door that Freddy wanted me to have. I picked it up and it was this M1 Garand that Homer had carried and borrowed.
Had a Garand freak buddy of mine check it out and it is 100% as issued in 1942. Has all the correct stuff in the stock and they're wrapped in a piece of an old GI undershirt to keep 'em from rattling.
Mary also gave me Homer's Pal RH37 Fighting knife.
It was my turn to get all weepy eyed. I told her I could get a pretty good chunk of change for that rifle if she wanted me to sell it too. She told me in NO uncertain terms that Freddy wanted me to have that rifle and I could do with it as I pleased. He hated it. He had told me years past that Garand was the ugliest POS rifle the US ever issued.
Either way, it's a keeper.
Pretty wood on that "ugliest POS rifle that the US ever issued".
It's got a home as long as I'm alive.
It'll belong to that kid beside me when I can't use it anymore.
Freddy was a Hoot and I miss him.
There are some close up pics of the rifle here.