The NRA National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia, explores the nearly 700-year history of firearms through 15 breathtaking galleries. Its emphasis on firearms and freedom weaves the story of American history as each gallery is evocative of a specific time in our country's past, from Jamestown to Hollywood and our modern military.
The museum's gallery on the Second World War features a case of firearms, equipment, uniforms, flags, insignia, and other miscellaneous items donated by those who served in the conflict and their families. It's a collection that has grown over time as people touring the museum see the case and offer up their own artifacts.
And that's exactly what happened with one of the museum's most recent donations. After seeing the exhibit, a gentleman whose father served in the US Army in the Second World War's European Theater gave the museum a piece of equipment that had saved his life.
While the item is nothing more than a standard magazine pouch, it acted as a shield from a large piece of shrapnel when a close shell exploded during an engagement. The shrapnel, which became embedded in one of the pouch's spare magazines, would have otherwise torn through the soldier's leg.
Unfortunately the soldier was not unscathed from the explosion. Blood stains can be seen on the pouch where smaller fragments hit him, but he was able to make it home thanks to the pouch's lucky placement.
"This is a really interesting piece because we can directly tie it to saving an American soldier's life," said senior curator Doug Wicklund. "I can't wait to add it to the gallery."