I still remember the look of extreme loss and grief etched on the mother’s face as my father and I sat in her living room. The despair so clearly displayed was over her son dying during aerial combat in the skies over Korea. The mother of this missing-in-action airman, a family friend, had just given my father her late son’s Savage Model 24 over-under, break-action combination gun. This meeting took place, if memory serves correctly, in 1956.
Sadly, too often did our men and women in military uniform go into harm’s way with inadequate tools. This was the case with the loss of the mother’s son. He was flying a Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star performing a low-altitude ground attack, a role that the P-80 was never designed to do. Reportedly, 113 P-80s were lost to ground fire during the Korean War. His plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire during the attack run, but he managed to keep control and fly out over the ocean to perform an emergency water landing. Tragically, even though he successfully ditched his P-80, he wasn’t able to get the canopy open to escape before his plane sank. Every time my hands handle his Savage Model 24, it is done with a deep sense of honor and humility. As I see it, I am merely a custodian of this Savage for future generations.
This specific Model 24 has a low three-number (no letter) serial number, located within the conventional ovular Savage stamping found on the left side of the frame, right by the trigger guard. This would place the date of manufacture between 1949 and 1950, depending on the specific information source. The two barrels have different chamberings, .22 Long Rifle for the top and .410 bore on the bottom, with a slide button for barrel selection. It would be impossible to manufacture such a combination gun of similar build quality at a reasonable price point today.
I only hope that this young American hero had as many opportunities as possible to use this Model 24 in the forests of his hometown before his untimely end. I have no doubt that he truly appreciated what a remarkable and versatile firearm his Savage Model 24 was.