Five Historic Rifles Used to Honor Veterans Stolen in Knoxville

KNOXVILLE, Iowa  --  The Memorial Hall in Knoxville, which is right next to American Legion Baty Tucker Post 168, was burglarized last week when three .30-40 Krags and two M1 Garands were taken. The Krags were originally used in the Spanish-American War and World War I, and the Garands were used in World War II and the Korean War.

"These weapons have great significance to our unit here," said Curt Froyen, Commander of American Legion Baty Tucker Post 168. "They've gone into battle in...different wars and we've used them now for the last 70 years to honor our veterans. Our funeral Honor Guard and members of our legion are just devastated with their loss. I guess we just hope that somehow they can be returned to us so that they can continue to be used the way they were intended to be used."

The rifles are used by the Honor Guard during 4th of July parades, Memorial Day services, and a variety of other occasions.

"But most importantly, we use them to honor our veterans as we salute at military funerals," said Commander Froyen. "Our unit does over 30 funerals a year here in the Knoxville area, and we think about all the men and women who served this country, and the loss of these weapons is devastating to us."

While the rifles are ceremonial now, in the wrongs hands, they could be very dangerous.

"One of the things that we are most concerned about is if these were in the hands of an inexperienced individual," said Commander Froyen. "These rifles have been modified to shoot blanks, they are not meant to shoot live rounds, and if someone were to actually try to fire a live ammunition through one of these, the results could be catastrophic, and we'd hate to think of someone who would be injured as a result of trying to fire one of these weapons."

The Knoxville Police Department is investigating this theft.