US Army Demands Fort Snelling’s Rifles Back

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — More than a dozen times a day, five days each week, they give their time to give fallen veteran a fitting and final honor. Fort Snelling’s memorial rifle squads have been attending the burials of veterans since the unit was formed in 1979.

At each burial, the rifle squad will fire off a 21-gun salute using WW1 vintage Springfield O3A3 bolt action rifles. Squad members say the rifles are safe and simple to load.

Recently, however, the squad learned that the U.S. Army is demanding that the unit turn over the government-issued rifles and exchange them for a different model.

“The Army says, ‘no you can’t use those any more. We’re going to ask you to bring those rifles to us or send them to us,'” explained squad member Tom Mullen.

Not only is the Army demanding to get the older rifles back, it says rules will restrict any unit to a maximum of 15 rifles. The Fort Snelling rifle squad currently has 45 Springfield rifles assigned to all five teams that comprise the squad. Administrators at Fort Snelling were informed that they have exceeded authorization under title 10 of federal code, 4683, which limits the number of rifles loaned to any veteran’s organization.

In addition, the Army wants to exchange the Springfield rifles for the M1 Garand. To any World War II era soldier, the gun is widely known to smash the inattentive thumb when being loaded.

“It irks the hell out of me,” saud memorial rifle squad charter member, George J. Weiss, Jr.

Weiss says the Army’s insistence to dictate the maximum number and kind of ceremonial rifle they can use screams of bureaucratic ignorance.

Furthermore, Weiss explained, if they don’t comply with the Army’s directive, they will lose their access to blank ammunition.

“They don’t know what we’re doing. And if they’d come out and check to see what we’ve done in the past, I think the attitude would change,” Weiss said.

However, until that happens, squad members vow to continue doing what they’ve done 59,620 times since the squad’s inception in 1979. They will keep honoring fallen comrades with a volley of 21 shots, fired from a rifle they trust.

More from Bill Hudson
  • G Dog

    Idiotic. Anyone who was in the service in WW II knows that the Garand had jamming problems. Let them continue to use the Springfield. A reliable rifle that they are already comfortable with.

    • Garand Owner

      Depending on the serial number on the receiver (even if it has been converted to an A3 ) the bolt may be brittle and could fail catastrophically. So called “low serial number” weapons are subject to this due to lack of hardening during the manufacturing process.

      I for one, as an M1 Garand (US RIFLE .30 CAL M1) find the M1 to have more favorable lines AND having fired HUNDREDS of round through mine, I have never had a bolt slam on my thumb. If the weapon is properly maintained and when fired it is properly loaded, “M1 Thumb” is not an issue. If you have a worn accelerator or you are using worn out/damaged En Bloc clips you might experience this mishap. The use of the video to “demonstrate” how hazardous the rifle can be is completely over the top

      I’m fairly certain that Patton wouldn’t have labeled the Garand Rifle the greatest implement of war ever devised if it was a piece of junk and did nothing but jam. I personally own an M1 Garand (June of 44 production) and have fired HUNDREDS of rounds through it and that is just during one trip to the range. Of the several hundred rounds I have fired through it I can count on one hand the number of miss feeds or jams that I have experienced and that was before I replaced original internals with new production parts.

    • Donald Dean Forncrook

      I was never in the srevice not that I never wanted to get in I tried at a time when they were not taking anyone but I agree gentle man above my late brother in law told me that the ww11 garand waas a worthless piece of S because when they were on the front lines most of the time they would jama dn some solders lost a thumb and said when your on the font lines one hardly evr has time to stop and repair his gun,my late father was in the big war ww 1 he loved the Springfield he said it wa really good and easy to load and fire and yes it is ediotic to demand a rifels or rifle to be returned when its used to salute fallon solders my questio is what is the big deal with the US army why are they ebing so insitent on having them returned back because they are no longer used on the battle front.
      So I chalange the US Army to come forward and answer the question why?; tell us the American people why? we paid for them with our taxes not you!!
      I say let them keep the Springfields!!
      maybe Congress should investagat the Sec of the Army because something stinks!? So US Congress people now earn your pay and do something about this idiotic plan the US army is not above the people of this grand land you work for us and are paid by US Tax payers so do something like stop buying hammers for $ 5000.00 when we can buy one from the ,local hardwear store for between $5.00 – 10.00

      • ridiculous

        Ridiculous. Every WWII GI I have spoken with stated that the M1 Garand was an accurate and reliable weapon. I have given several a workout and totally agree. If loaded improperly the bolt will close on the thumb. It is painful but no one ever “lost” a thumb.

  • Mark Couture

    they probably want them to sell to the mexicans for sniper rifles,they are accurate,and with a scope hard to beat,plus at a gun show they can bring an easy 4oo bucks!The Grande with a blank,is worthless wont eject the empty case,hard to load single shot,they should have asked some Old Gunny Sarge! Something is fishy here,A Grande is is bring around 800 bucks,I Smell a Rat!

    • m1

      An ’03 Springfield in good condition will cost at least a grand. An all original Garand (not a piece cobbled together from parts) will also cost around a grand. They do make blank adapters for the Garand.

  • Jake

    Thanks obama. Such an idiotic move could only have come from him or one of the cronies in his staff. Don’t we have much more serious PROBLEMS to be dealing with these days?? Is this a solution looking for a problem?? WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?? These don’t even qualify as ‘assault rifles’. Oh, I get it, somebody thinks that these older rifles are worth a LOT, so the gov’t wants to auction them off and make some money off of them. To the honor guards, keep the rifles, you can find ‘blank’ ammunition if you want to. Start a fund drive, I’ll contribute to help pay for the ammo from a PRIVATE SUPPLIER, so our stupid gov’t can’t stop these fine, honorable, and dedicated honor guards from continuing a fine and worthwhile tradition.

    • Yeah

      So you’re sure Obama or one of his staff ordered the Army to do this? And you have the facts to back this up?
      No, of course you don’t.
      Because you really don’t have a clue, do you Jake.
      No, of course you don’t.

      • Jake

        Really?? Who ELSE would be STUPID ENOUGH to put out an ORDER like this?
        REALLY?? WHO?? Who gave the order, and why?? yeah and tom, you both are so stupid, it isn’t even worth mentioning.

        • Kyle

          Really Jake?? You honestly believe President Obama (yes, it’s President Obama,not Obama, have some respect) has direct contact with choosing the rifles for veterans groups? Important group that does great work but the President does not get involved with that on a day to day basis. Someone waaaay lower on the totem pole deals with that. I did not vote for the President nor do I intend to but I respect the office and have enough to common sense to not bash him for a low level army official. If you don’t like him or his policies fine, but you’re just being ridiculous.

          • Jake

            So kyle, since you are so SMART, why don’t you tell all of America who was so STUPID to tell a volunteer group of more than 30 years that the TYPE of rifle that they were using was no longer ALLOWED. This is so dumb, it’s dumber than DUMB. Withhold BLANK ammunition?? What is accomplished by that?? Did your mommy drop you on your head when you were a baby, or what??

            • Really

              Jake, your last response clearly states you don’t have a clue. Obviously facts don’t matter to you and you are unwilling to take the necessary effort to find out where the policy was created. Instead you yell at someone else to do it because they provided a much more plausible explanation and called you out on your misinformation.

              FYI – the policy is determined and administered by of the Secretary of the Army. As stated above, its likely the policy is maintained by someone much lower on the chain of command. According to some of the revision information I found with a simple web search, it law/policy originated in the 1920’s and has been continuously updated since then.

              • Jake

                Hint: the secretary of the army REPORTS to the President of the United States. I’m quite sure that obama knows about this, but doesn’t think that it is that big of a deal, but it is. If I were a member of one of these honor guards, I would tell the secretary, AND the prez, to POUND SAND. There is no good, rational, reasonable, reason for the Army to be ordering this, these fine volunteers have done NOTHING wrong, and race or religion have nothing to do with my opinion.

            • Mike

              Well, it appears that this is part of the 2008 version of the code as well (drafted by the Bush admistration). I would wager that regulation is much older than that though. There are probably good reasons to be disatisfied with the current administration, if you are as smart as you say you are, you would be talking about those ones instead of being wrong about this one.

              • Kyle

                I don’t honestly know who gave the order to do so. Thats why I don’t run my mouth making false claims. However, I’m willing to bet the farm President Obama didn’t. I’m also not arguing it’s dumb to implement these changes, it sounds foolish to me. You ask what is accomplished by that, I say not much. I agree with you. I fully appreciate the work the honor guard does and it seems silly to make these changes. I am simply saying President Obama doesn’t get involved in those decisions unless somehow it escalates up to him. You state below you are a Veteran, thank you for your service. As a Veteran you surely understand chain of command, the general doesn’t directly make small time day to day operation decisions for all troops, he doesn’t have time. Same goes for the President and CEOs andManagers and Police Chiefs. It’s why we have lower level officers. I am just not sure how you back up your claims the President personally ordered these changes. I do know though that Insulting me,while you may enjoy it, isn’t a very intelligent way to argue nor does it help prove your point.

                • Jake

                  Kyle, the Secretary of the Army reports to only ONE person….. The President of the United States….PERIOD. That is the CHAIN OF COMMAND within our Armed Forces. Get a clue. BUY a clue. STEAL a CLUE. There is NO WAY that you can convince ME that the Secretary of the Army did this solely on his own, without obama’s knowledge and/or APPROVAL. If he did, obama should FIRE HIM, unless a detailed and public explanation is given.

  • tom C

    Jake that is the stupidest comment ever. What would Obama have to do with it.

    • Awwww

      Go easy on him. other than making comments here at ‘CCO and sitting on that park bench yelling at the pigeons, he doesn’t have much to do.

      • Jake

        Ah, NO, former honorable veteran. Former paratrooper, One who believes in tradition, honor, and appreciates what VOLUNTEER HONOR GUARDS do for our VETERANS, unlike YOU LOSERS. I’d really like ‘cco to try and find out what idiot bureaucrat ‘ordered’ this. Sounds like that person should be in the unemployment line — PERMANENTLY.

        • Dale Gribble

          Jake’s right. Obama knows that those arms might be used against the UN troops when they come to enforce Sharia law. That’s why they’re being removed. Here’s a salute to Jake for standing proudly for White Christian American Values, Liberty and Freedom!!!

          • The REAL, real Jake

            Dale where have you been! I’ve missed your voice of reason!

          • Jake

            Let the record show that ‘dale’ brought up ‘race’ and ‘religion’, I did NOT. That is not the POINT, or the ISSUE. The issue is, is why NOW, these rifles are being, in essence, CONFISCATED by the Secretary of the Army (who, BTW, reports to obama), and what will happen to these rifles, when they have been used for DECADES in an honorable way.

            • NotUofCorse

              Doesn’t matter who brought it up, I can spot the bigot hiding behind a flag.

  • treehugger

    you know, these guys choose to be a part of fort snelling. they choose to honor the families of our fallen military men and women. no one forces them to go out in these minnesota winters of ours to fire their rifles and present the flags. they do it because they FEEL HONORED to do it. thank you for all you do fellas. im proud to be the daughter of a fort snelling honor guard. semper paradus daddy!

  • Bill

    Eric Holder wants the guns.

    Something about giving them to Mexican drug lords.

  • MN 6th District

    The US Army has a sudden need for the Springfield ’03? A 108 year old firearm?

    And for the doubters, the M1 really is a decent rifle, but like all recoil-operated semi-automatics it doesn’t function well using blank ammunition.

  • Jim

    I think our Senators and US Reps ought to be able to weigh in on thie and pressure the bureaucrats to back off. Come on MN politicians….this is dumb.

  • ExtheFeds

    All I can say is Bulls**t what the hell did you think this was a good idea?

  • d

    ‘cco needs to find out where these guns are being sent to and who ordered it… sounds a little fishy… why all of a sudden?

  • Dave W.

    As an active member in the military, we’ve all heard the addage of ‘Military Intelligence”, or lack thereof. I would bet my bottom dollar the issue of returning these rifles is out of a safety directive mandated to the U.S. Army. It would makes the most sense considering the age of these firearms. Which would also explain the withholding of blank ammunition until the directive is adhered to.
    What bothers me, and should upset every American, is how the story is presented and to such an honorable organization as this. Yes, a senator or congressman should pick this up and come up with a positive solution and quick.
    I want to personally thank each and every member of this squad for what they do.

  • Sue Andrews

    First find out who ordered this and why and why now? they have served a very noble and honorabe part of thousands of veterans (people who have died for our country.) If you’ve never attended a curial at Ft Snelling – do so now – it is incredibly touching and means so much to the families. It would be very sad to see these rifles taken away. Do we not want or need to honor our military anymore when it’s been such a huge and meaningful part of tradition. Let’s get some answewrs first; then figure out what to do.

  • ipmutt

    Well it sure is comforting knowing our media has time and resources deticated to covering these critical issues. What would we do if this went through? We need to bring a few more government agencies and media people into this before they find something of value to get involved in. Our tax dolars and product overhead dollars hard at work protecting us.

  • AW

    The Army can have these rifles when they pry them from our cold dead fingers!

  • HistoryLessonsPeople

    It’s a way to ensure that there are less guns in the hands of patriotic people.

  • Frank S.

    Perhaps someone in the gov decided this would be a less contoversial place to put the 1000 Garand rifles Korea is returning that the Obam administration will not sell to citizens.

    If the only power the feds can exert is to stop supplying blanks the decision is a no-brainer. Take a collection to BUY blanks! You’ll have no problem.

    To the uninformed who don’t believe the Obam administration is anti-gun, start paying attention. They are held in check ONLY because most congressmen won’t support any anti-gun legislation. Instead Obam operatives seek sneaky ways to do it administratively.

    • Dale Gribble

      That’s right, Frank. Somali political agents are already in place in the Twin Cities to assist the UN troops when they arrive. We know that lead elements of these formations are already training in the BWCA. Moves such as this one ensure that, when the time comes, White Christian Americans will be disarmed and unable to resist Sharia Law.

  • Dutch

    The 03A3 is not a “World War One” vintage rifle. The 03A3 variant was manufactured in the early days of WW2. Principle difference between it and the WW1 vintage 1903 is the rear sight and stamped parts on the 03A3.

    The M1 Garand was not “prone to jam”. It was and is… a rugged, reliable weapon, much tougher than the high-dollar Buck Rogers gear carried nowdays by American troops.

  • Mr. Head

    I would like to first state that this subject is not the place for Jake and Kyle to squabble between thenselves. Secondly I have fisrt hand knowledge on this topic and the Springfield 03A3 that are being used date from 1942-1945. These rifle have been used for over 20+ years by the rifle squad and out of the blue some title 10 code, 4683 is being applied. How long has that code been in effect? You don’t get very much detailed info from Mr. Hudson’s story on the reasons. This lack of research is more than evident in the story where he mentions the 21 gun salute. Well folks the only person who gets a 21 gun salute is a deceased President. All the veterans thatt are honored at Fort Snelling get three rifle vollyes with a minimun of 4 rifle firing or a max of eight. rifles. The primary concern with the loss of the rifles is not only the loss of the Springfields, which are easy to work on but the fact the squad is losing 66% of the rifles they have. That means that the M1 Garrand will be shot almost three times as many times a week as the Springfields, which I guarantee will mean more break downs with fewre rifles for back ups That’s my 2 cents worth and I agree with those who commented wher are Senators Franken and Klobuchar on this issue..

    • The REAL, real Jake

      Truthfully this is the real argument here. And as far as firing blanks, its no big deal. I’ve been firing blanks for a while now. Ever since the wife made me go to the Doctor to “get the cut” so to speak.Yep me and my dog Old Blue have a lot more in common now

    • RIII

      You have just made more sense than the snewz article, the government or all the other comments.

  • Jeff

    The solution is incredibly simple. Everyone say’s the Army wants their rifles back. Make the Army prove they are theirs! There are other Armed forces that used 03-A3 Springfield rifles, Navy and Marines, and I can guarantee you none of those rifles says Property of the United States Army. Those rifles are the Property of the American people, bought and paid for long ago with tax dollars. If the Army wants to force the issue be withholding blank ammo. then a simple solution is to install chamber fillers for 7.62mm (i.e. .308 Winchester) and use cheap and commercially availible 7.62 blanks. This modification is reliable and safe, and if the rifle squad wants a really big bang they can use grenade launching blanks. The only reason I can see for the Army meaning the government wanting these rifles back is to place them into the CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program), for resale to the public. They should bring in more money then the beat up M1 Garands that were reimported from Turkey and Greece.

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