Orville A. Bierkle’s Revolver

Bierkle Revolver.jpgRemember this revolver? Well, a year later, I’ve got a pretty big update.

It’s not every day that you learn that one of your favorite revolvers was issued to a Marine in WWI who passed it on to his grandson, who carried it in Korea — a grandson who was witness along with his parents to the Rape of Nanking; a grandson, moreover, who fought at Chosin Reservoir (presumably with this revolver at his side) and wrote poetry about the experience; who later in life preserved the only surviving full copy of Dr. John Magee’s documentary of the Rape and donated it to the Library of Congress — all extensively documented — and I’m sure that’s just the tip of the iceberg of the deeds in this man’s life.

I’m shaking as I type this. I’ve been a history junkie since I was a kid. Majoring in it in college just fed the addiction. A third of the 20,000 or so books in our home library are history. I’ve got books on Chosin I haven’t read yet. This is really just incredible.

Years ago I was touring a preserved Colonial home in Plymouth Mass. that was furnished with items designed to show what everyday life was like back Bierkle Revolver.jpgthen. I noticed a pair of women’s shoes, and they looked suspiciously like any women’s spiked pumps you’d see today. So I picked one up and asked the docent if it was an accurate reproduction. She got a funny look on her face and said “Those are Mercy Otis Warren‘s shoes.” It was like an electric shock went through me — I was holding something the Conscience of the Revolution had touched. Handling this revolver feels like that now. If I can gather a complete set of documentation about Bierkle’s life and this revolver, I would imagine it’s something the National Firearms Museum might like to have someday.

The revolver’s sitting next to me here atop a printout of this remarkable Calguns thread. Don’t read it unless you want to explain why your eyes are watering like mine.

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9 Responses to Orville A. Bierkle’s Revolver

  1. Chad says:

    Jaw dropping awesome. Wow. The history geek in me is leaking.

  2. Joe Huffman says:

    I have three books on the rape of Nanking. Each time I read one of them I want to buy another gun and I want to teach more people how to shoot and to tell them why it is important that they know how.

    Yeah, my eyes and cheeks are wet.

  3. Ted says:

    Wow. Just wow.

  4. Fred says:

    Please keep us updated on this story. WOW again.

  5. BadIdeaGuy says:

    That’s a treasure!

  6. poletax says:

    That is absolutely the best thread I have ever read.
    I have registered on Calguns because of it.

    Poletax in West’By God’Virginia

  7. tjbbpgobIII says:

    I have read a lot of history of our great nation, at least I thought I had. This is the first I have heard of this woman and the books she authored. I hope to be able to find some of her writings soon, if available.

  8. DirtCrashr says:

    phew!! “Old China Hand” missionaries had it tough! We had some Baptist Mission friends who had to get up at night and hike across the boarder when the ChiComs took over. That they succeeded was due to Fog-of-War: confusion of the moment and lack of communication among troops – that seems to be the cloak that allowed Providence to guide them safely.

  9. Sharon K says:

    Wow,you never know what you’ll find when you start googling. Orville A. Bierkle was my uncle, my mom is sister. As my cousin Ruth mentioned, Uncle Orville was born in Nanking, and my mom was born in Shanghai. A good resource on the Rape of Nanking is the 2008 documentary, “Nanking”, available on DVD on Amazon, etc. It utilizes the film that Magee/Fitcfilm smuggled out of the city. My brother also has Uncle Orville’s Korea diary and hopes retype it onto his computer so it is easier for us to read. Any gun skills Uncle Orville had, he came by not only from our grandfather, but also our grandmother, who was a crack shot 🙂

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