Guns Recovered from Ground Zero
Updated: Oct 28, 2019
As a museum professional, I've had the opportunity to handle some remarkable pieces of American history and the three that I want to talk to you about today all relate to September 11th.
The first piece is a Kimber Classic Royal 1911 pistol that was in the customs warehouse in the basement of the World Trade Center waiting to be exported to a company in Italy that was supposed to take possession of those guns and distribute them over there. A number of years passed and the gentleman who had accepted those guns realized the importance of them to American history and worked with Navy Arms to get one of those guns back into the US and donate it to the museum at NRA HQ. I was working there when that gun came in and I've had the opportunity to handle it and be a part of its story and its history.
When you see that gun, you wouldn't know that it was in the World Trade Center and in that carnage because the gun is in mint condition. That's because it was in one of the vaults, which was an incredibly secure facility, and miraculously those guns did not sustain any damage while they were down there.
The next two pieces did sustain a terrific amount of damage. One of those is a Smith and Wesson snubnose J-frame revolver that was carried by New York Police Department Officer Walter Weaver. He was 30 years old and was a nine year veteran of the force. He was last seen on the sixth floor of the north tower getting people out of a stuck elevator when the building came down on top of them. During the recovery efforts, his body was not found, but his backup gun - this Smith and Wesson - was found. Based on the serial number, the NYPD was able to figure out who the gun had been issued to and his family subsequently donated it to the museum. I have handled that gun and can tell you that it's bent and mangled frame is a testament to the carnage that day.
The third piece is a Smith and Wesson Model 5946 semi-auto pistol in 9mm. That gun's story relates to the Walter Weaver story because I was down in the museum galleries when a gentleman tapped me on my shoulder and said, "I hear you have Walter Weaver's gun; where is it?" I showed it to him and he explained to me that his name was Dan D'Allara and his twin brother, John D'Allara, was a good friend of Walter Weaver's. John D'Allara happened responded to the calls for help with this Smith and Wesson 5946 pistol on his belt. Unfortunately, John D'Allara was lost that day. However, they actually did find John's body in the rubble, which was a miracle, and his duty gun was there with him as well.
I worked for a number of months with his brother in order to get the pistol, the flag that covered his body when it was brought out of the rubble of Ground Zero, as well as the rounds that had cooked off in the magazine to be put on loan to the museum. That was actually one of the very last things I did there before I left and pursued High Caliber History full-time.
So, I just wanted to share with you here on this 18th anniversary of 9/11, these three incredibly historic guns that I am exceptionally honored to have been able to handle in my career - the Kimber from the customs warehouse, the Smith and Wesson revolver from Officer Walter Weaver, and the Smith and Wesson pistol from Officer John D'Allara.
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