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Colt 1911 pistol carried by Marine on Iwo Jima going up for auction

J.D. Simkins

Colt 1911 pistol carried by Marine on Iwo Jima going up for auction
A Colt 1911 pistol carried during the 1945 Battle of Iwo Jima is being put up for auction on June 6.

The firearm — sold alongside numerous other items, including an original annotated map of the Iwo Jima assault plans — belonged to Marine combat photographer, Sgt. Arthur Kiely.

A Connecticut native, Kiely joined the Marine Corps after working as a civilian photographer and would go on to serve under (and develop a close friendship with) Lt. Gen. Holland “Howlin’ Mad” Smith. 

The iconic general known as the mastermind behind amphibious assault strategies throughout the Pacific presented the map to Kiely as the Battle of Iwo Jima neared its end, according to the item’s description on the Rock Island Auction page.

In addition to the pistol and map, numerous pictures taken by Kiely are included in the auction package. Reconnaissance and battlefield photos from Iwo, as well as multiple photos featuring Kiely in places like Saipan and Tarawa, are some of the highlighted images. Notably, one shot depicts Kiely “moving through a field on Saipan with a dead Japanese trooper in-frame and an American tank stuck in the ocean in the background,” the auction description reads.

The photographer’s Bronze Star citation is also among the auctioned documents.

Kiely earned the medal for actions during the Mariana and Palau Islands campaign during the summer of 1944, when he was forced to set aside his camera and pick up a rifle as Japanese soldiers closed in.

The Marine personally killed “at least three of the enemy” before continuing to document the battle from the front lines, Howlin’ Mad Smith wrote in Kiely’s citation.

A web belt, helmet and camo cover, and the rank tab of an Imperial Japanese soldier are also among the various objects in the collection.

In all, Kiely’s items are expected to fetch somewhere between $35,000 and $55,000, according to the auction page.

Watch the video below to learn more about the historical set, and view select items and photos featured in the subsequent images.





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