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Historic pistols belonging to General Omar Bradley returned decades later to U.S. Army War College

The pistols went missing during a nationwide string of thefts from museums and historical societies between 1968 and 1979. They were recovered in 2017.
Credit: U.S. Army War College

CARLISLE, Pa. — Two historic World War II-era pistols that once belonged to General Omar Bradley stolen more than 50 years ago have been recovered and will be returned to the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center and the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle.

Federal agents are returning the pistols to Carlisle after a years-long investigation into a string of thefts from museums and historical societies across the country that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, the War College said in a press release.

One of the pistols was picked up on a battlefield in Tunisia during the war, the college said.

Bradley (1893-1981) served as commander of the First United States Army during the D-Day invasion of Normandy in 1944 and led the Twelfth United States Army Group in Europe after the invasion succeeded.

He also served as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1949 before becoming senior military commander at the start of the Korean War.

Bradley left active duty in 1953.

Investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Art Crime team - Philadelphia Division worked together with the United States Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Upper Merion Township Police Department, and the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office to close the case, the college said.

The artifacts were stolen from 16 different museums and historical societies between 1968 and 1979.

In 2009, detectives from Upper Merion Township Police reopened the cold case, which led to a confidential source turning in some of the missing items, the college said.  

FBI investigators joined the effort in 2016, ultimately leading to a search in May of 2017 which recovered another grouping of the stolen artifacts. 

Investigators then spent the following years tracking down the source of the weapons.

The investigation led to a 2021 indictment against Michael Corbett, who pled guilty to the charges and agreed to turn over the remaining weapons as part of the plea agreement. 

In total, investigators recovered 50 artifacts. 

The pistols were returned to the Bradley collection during a ceremony at the USAHEC on Monday.

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