ARIZARD-L ArchivesArchiver > ARIZARD > 2001-12 > 1008642946
Subject: Re: [ARIZARD-L] WWII - Rick
Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2001 21:35:49 EST
I can top the flag story.
I was told of an Marine vet who was part of the invasion force of Okinawa.
He lived in the country in Okmulgee County and a friend took me out to meet
him. Being a brother Marine, we naturally had a lot to talk about. To make
a long story short, he didn't have any of his souvenirs anymore, except for
one old, beat up Samauri sword he brought back from Okinawa. Most Jap WWII
equipment isn't woth much monetarily. Samuri swords are the exeption. He
had killed the officer who had the sword on the last day of battle. It was
also the only man he ever was face to face with in combat. I asked him if I
could see it. He led me to his back porch where he picked up the sword from
the corner whereit was kept. The handle had been busted several times and
repaired with epoxy & tape. The once beautiful blade, a bladse that had been
hand forges by a master blade maker, was pitted with rust marks and the edge
was severly niched & notched. Oh, the handle had been made of ivory with
ornate carvings. This very nice, but un-informed man had used this sword for
40 years (at the time I met him - 1980) to chop off chicken heads in his back
yard. He had also used it for weed cutting and other "dishonorable" things
that this work of art should not have been subjected to. I know basically
nothing about Japanese swords, but I knew this one was a special sword,
possibly even a ceremonial temple sword. The old guy said I could have it.
He had no idea what happened to the scabbard as he hadn't seen it in 20
years. I took the sword to a Japanese man I use to know who collected
Samauri swords. I thought the poor guy was going to have a stroke when he
saw the sword and the condition it was in. John Bello also saw it and just
shook his head in dismay. It was probably a generational family sword, (and
probably not a temple sword as I thought), and from what we could figure out,
had been in that Japanese Officer's family since the late 1700's. The tang
of the sword had the original craftsman's name engraved on it. Anyway, had
this sword been preserved, it would have been worth about $5000.00. As it
was though, it was worth only about $500.00.
I kept the sword displayed in my "military" room until 1997 when I packed it
up to move to my new home. That was the last time I saw it. It, along with
several US swords and a German Luftwaffe sword I had vanished along with a
lot of old autographed baseball cards I had collected. I'm fairly sure I
know who got the sword, but I can't prove it. I'll never be priviliged to
own such a piece again.
Oh, I've got a lot of these stories...
Rick Lawrence - Tulsa
PS - I am trying to find a uniform of a Pearl Harbor suirvivor for my
display, as well as one for the 101st Airborne, a Nuremburg Trials MP
uniform, and a Navy Corpsman's USMC uniform (Navy Corpsman assigned to a
Marine unit were, & still are, allowed to wear the dress Marine green uniform
with their Navy rate or rank on the sleeve). So, if you dig any of those up,
let me know!