More than thirty years ago Marine John McGinty’s prized 1911 pistol was stolen from him. A pistol which he used to kill five enemy soldiers during Operation Hastings in 1966, a battle in which he was awarded the Medal of Honor for saving the lives his men as they were overwhelmed by North Vietnamese troops.
McGinty’s 1911, serial number 0103889, was stolen while it was on display with his uniform and sword in 1978. The 1911 later turned up at an online auction this past July where retired Navy warrant officer George Barry purchased it for less than $1,000. The 1911 A1 was built in 1914 and had “USMC” stamped on it, but it was reblued and did not have the original sights or grips, decreasing its value to collections.
Still Berry bid on it and won, but after receiving his new 1911 he noticed there was a name engraved on it. As Berry researched who it was he realized it originally belonged to a Medal of Honor recipient, increasing the pistol’s worth substantially. Berry decided to dig deeper and contact McGinty to inquire about the 1911’s original owner. That’s when McGrinty informed him the pistol was actually stolen back in 1978. Like any honorable man would do Berry sent the 1911 back to it’s rightful owner more than thirty years after it was taken.
McGinty offered to pay Berry for his troubles and the cost of the pistol from the auction, but Berry refused, saying all he wanted was a 1911. So McGinty obliged and sent him a 1911 made in 1918 that used to belong to McGinty’s buddy John Finn, a Pearl Harbor survivor who also received the Medal of Honor, to show his appreciation for Berry’s generosity.
“John McGinty could have just said, ‘Thanks, have a good life. But no matter what was going to happen, I knew I would feel good about getting that gun back to him,” said Berry about returning the historical 1911 to McGinty. “Concern yourself with what is right and you’ll never second-guess that decision,” he concluded.