Favorite Firearms: The General’s Beretta

posted on December 15, 2021
Beretta M9

My father, Donald M. Bagley, first enlisted in the Navy just after his 17th birthday. He was a trained parachutist and rigger, and, in 1958, was selected to serve as an air-sea rescue specialist with the Navy’s first wintering-over mission in Antarctica.

He later enlisted in the Army, where he served in Special Forces and earned a commission through Officer Candidate School. He quickly rose through the ranks and retired as a major general.

Growing up, my brothers and I wanted to be soldiers like our father. I remember him setting up a screen and projector in our living room, and we’d watch military survival films on Sunday afternoons. Eventually, two of my brothers and I served, as did a sister-in-law and three nephews. We were proud to be an Army family.

When dad was promoted to a general officer, he was issued a special Beretta M9 with walnut stocks, a gold Army officer’s crest on one side and his name engraved onto a gold plate on the other. It was issued with a special general officer’s serial number. The pistol came with three 15-round magazines, a high-grade leather holster, magazine pouch and belt with a brass officer’s crest buckle. Generals typically wore the belt on the outside of their BDUs. Following his retirement, he was allowed to purchase his M9.

A few years before his death, dad presented me with the gun. He typed instructions to me on his major general letterhead concerning it and his expectation that it remain in the family. I also received everything that was issued with it, including the hand receipt showing its original issue to my father. It fires as smoothly as butter, and I keep it inspection-clean. Every time I pick it up, I think of my dad, his service to our country and the critical role firearms play in securing our freedoms.

D. Jason Bagley, Arizona


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