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M2 Browning Ma Deuce machine gun
Cjp24, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You know that sinking feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you lose something important? You pat the pocket where you usually keep your phone and…it’s not there. You frantically search everywhere for the damned thing as your heart races and you start to panic.

That’s pretty much what happened to a bunch of the US Army’s finest over the weekend at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. The “Ghost Brigade” (AKA the 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team) along with others on the base had their weekend cut short when an M2 receiver went walkies.

As military.com reports . . .

The receiver assembly of an M2 .50-caliber machine gun went missing from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment’s staff duty area and triggered an all-hands search that, for most of the rank and file, lasted a little over 12 hours. But it resulted in an Army investigation that was still ongoing Monday.

The receiver assembly is essentially useless on its own but had not been found, according to 7th Infantry Division spokesperson Maj. Bryen Freigo. A judge advocate’s recommendation for a search of the base indicated the weapon component had likely been stolen.

D’oh! We can’t stand when we misplace our machine guns. It’s terribly inconvenient, not to mention expensive. And our friends at the ATF can get downright grumpy about these kinds of things.

Soldiers were getting ready for Expert Infantry and Expert Soldier Badge qualifications that includes firing the M2. Only the M2 was nowhere to be found.

“In preparation for testing, an M2 had been signed over to staff duty to allow soldiers to train for testing through the weekend,” [7th Infantry Division spokesperson Maj. Bryen] Freigo told Military.com over email.

A soldier allegedly took the receiver, which was out of the sight of the staff duty troops. This “created an opportunity for one awful person to create chaos,” one soldier involved in the search told Military.com. It is unclear why or exactly when the soldier took the component.

Freigo said that staff duty discovered the component was missing and notified their chain of command. “Per policy, the brigade had been recalled to aid in the search for the sensitive item,” he added.

This really isn’t anything new for America’s GIs. The Army misplaced an M240B machine gun in August and an AP investigation uncovered what they say is a years-long effort to understate the problem of thousands of missing weapons.

M2 Browning Ma Deuce machine gun
Courtesy US Army

When the Ma Deuce was discovered missing, the brass got right on it, organizing a careful, systematic grid search designed to find the important piece of ordnance . . .

“A .50 cal is nuts to go missing,” the soldier told Military.com, though it was only the receiver. “The searching was silly. … The guidance was to go walk around and look for it like you’re doing an Easter egg hunt.

After much hunting, the miscreant who walked off with the receiver was found . . .

A culprit was identified that afternoon, according to a soldier involved in the search. By evening, the soldier had allegedly confessed to tossing the receiver into a dumpster. At some point, the trash bin had been emptied and its contents — including the machine gun part — had been hauled away.

Reports of hundreds of civilians combing through the garbage dumps of western Washington could not immediately be confirmed.


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