by Cpl. Robert Lin Cook
Jan 1942-Sep 1945

When I was a boot Marine,
a rifle wrapped in Cosmoline
was issued me
In 1942.
'Twas not a new issue,
it had been around
and had seen
another war
before I hit
the ground.

They dubbed it a
Springfield of 1903
and gave it away
to kids like me to
have and to hold
and care for
as careful 
as could be.
Its stock was grained
and smooth as glass,
the color rich and tawny,
you could tell it
had had good care
from every Joe
and Johnny.

There was nothing
automatic
about that old '03,
you had to operate
the bolt
before you did
the squeeze.
The bolt slid back
with quiet ease,
the trigger pull
was firm and
when it fired
a lusty sound
did assault the ears.
It had a hearty recoil
that let you know
its power,
you knew you
were firing
with every jolt 
and noise.

When layin' on the muddy ground
or from some ol' foxhole,
you could count on every shot
going where it was told.
You hugged it closely
to your cheek
and snug against
your shoulder,
the two of you
became as one
like a good
old buddy.

When standing at parade
or passing in review,
that rifle handled nicely
like a fitted suit of blues.
No matter where I took it,
on land or sea of foam,
I could always count
upon it no matter
where I roamed.

*     *     *
The author: Robert Lin Cook served with Reg. Weapons Co. (2d-2d) from 1942-44, at Guadalcanal and Tarawa during a 33-month overseas tour.

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