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Salty M41 field jacket, field repairs, named

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#1 36thIDAlex

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Posted 04 November 2019 - 11:10 AM

Hey everyone, so I was able to finally get my hands on a (fairly well-used) M41!

This came from a man out of San Francisco and it belonged to a Captain Eugene F. Gaebler. Gaebler was a WWI veteran, serving in the 318th engineers during the war and working on the reconstruction of France afterward. When he returned home he stayed active in the Corps of Engineers in the 385th before becoming an off-duty reservist in 1922, acting in a limited capacity before being recalled in the second war. Between the wars Gaebler became an engineer with The Pacific Fruit Express, a joint railroad owned by the Southern Pacific, Union Pacific, and Western Pacific railways. He operated and maintained refrigerator cars from California to Oregon.

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Gaebler, now 50, was recalled in April and reported to command at the Presidio. In August of 1942 he received an appointment as head Utility officer of Camp Pinedale in California. He became the head engineer on the project to build Hammer Field, now Fresno Municipal Airport, designing new runways which could sustain the rather heavy impact of bomber landings. He was very close to a lot of the head engineers out in California as he had served with many in the first war and in the reserves afterward. His relationship with a Colonel Bruce, head of the engineers in San Francisco, got him a posting as head engineer in charge of the military and civilian ports of San Francisco. Based out of Fort Mason, Gaebler’s job was to oversee the day to day operations of the port, maintain the dock facilities around he bay, as well as upkeep the infrastructure of the piers, and all logistical material involved in getting troops and supplies onboard the ships to be sent to the Pacific. Here, his sphere of influence included places such as Alcatraz Island, Angel Island, Fort Baker, and the boats which would take soldiers and workers down the bay to transport ships at Fort Mason.

After the war came to an end Gaebler stayed in the service to see the gradual disestablishment of the vast military infrastructure that had put in place. By of May of 1946 he was discharged and continued his life as a reservist, reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and a civilian contract engineer designing bridges and transportation infrastructure projects across the west.

Gaebler passed away in the 1970s but some of his items came up at an estate recently. I am working with the seller, who misplaced some of his other items, to keep the group together. According to him the m41 was the most interesting piece but there might be a few other pieces as well. While not combat worn, it is clear that this jacket sure had a lot of use during the war. It is likely what he was issued early on and used when building Hammer Field, continuing to use throughout his time in the service and after the war (I found some postwar materials in the pocket). Adding to its saltiness, there are a number of repairs done to the jacket including replaced elbows, neck and waistline supports, and a few other odd stitches here and there.

I have been trying to find an m41 for awhile now and loved the worn look of this one. I managed to get it for a decent price and while not combat used, I still really appreciate the story behind the uniform. With the Pacific war seeing a ratio of 13 logistical soldiers for every 1 in combat, I am somewhat glad to have found this story to broaden the experiences represented in my collection. Gaebler played an important part in supporting the war effort, getting the men and material needed to keep up the fight overseas. I will be happy to keep this often overlooked experience alive through what was clearly a well-loved jacket.

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These were in the pockets
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#2 Blacksmith

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Posted 04 November 2019 - 12:28 PM

That is a fantastic jacket - congrats!

#3 respectingthesacrifice

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Posted 04 November 2019 - 12:36 PM

A nice one, well done!

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