FORT HARRISON — The Montana Military Museum says they can now complete the story of the First Special Service Force with the acquisition of these firearms.
The National Center for Unwanted Firearms met with the Montana Military Museum to donate firearms to add to their collection. Firearms included a 1940s Johnson Automatic Rifle, a Browning Automatic Rifle, a Japanese Type 26 Officer’s Revolver, and a rare, 1941 Johnson Light Machine Gun.
“We’re very excited that we were able to get something that is so rare and it completes the First Special Service Force story, in great detail, because we’ve never been able to show that weapon,” says Ray Read, the Museum Director. “Everybody asks about it, ‘what does that mean?’ Everybody reads it in text.”
Ray explains why the light machine gun was important to the First Special Service Force in Montana.
“This one was to allow them to be a light infantry unit and travel fast. So, it was a very critical element of their training that they had here and what they carried into the combat theater,” says Read.
It took the museum over 30 years to find the machine gun. The search went abroad when one museum volunteer recently found the Johnson Automatic Rifle in a gun shop. That is when they discovered the National Center for Unwanted Firearms. They had the specific machine gun and donated it along with the other historical weapons.
“We’re taking firearms in from all over the country. We always said that we were going to attempt to preserve firearms. That’s what we’re going to do,” says Chip Ayers, President of the National Center for Unwanted Firearms.
The museum is still working to find a permanent display for these firearms. As of September 24th, 2020, they will be in storage. Visitors can still come by and ask to see these weapons.
The National Center for Unwanted Firearms is a nonprofit dedicated to collecting firearms to disassemble, donating firearms to law enforcement, and preserving historical weapons.