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Original U.S. Vietnam War US Marine Corps Name Engraved Gerber MkII With Scabbard - Captain Holmber, Intel Officer MAG-13 / VMFA-115

Regular price $4,495.00

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. As far as legendary fighting knives go, there are a few that stand the test of time. The Ka-Bar, the Bowie knife, the Fairbairn-Sykes, and the often forgotten Gerber Mark II Combat Knife are all famed fighting knives. The Mark II was designed in 1966 and quickly became a popular choice with soldiers and Marines headed overseas. Particularly, the Mark II became a favorite with the MACV SOG teams that were the premier special operations unit in Vietnam.

A former Army Captain designed the Gerber Mark II. And he designed it not just to be a tool but a weapon. The Mark II has a 6.5-inch blade. That length allows the blade to strike something vital in the torso from almost any angle. The Mark II uses a dagger type design making it less of a slasher and more of a stabber. This dual-edged blade, with its dagger point, will penetrate deep and with ease.

During the Vietnam War, the first production run of this knife had a five degree offset between the blade and the grip in order to ride in the sheath more comfortably, and give the user a grip similar to that of a fencing foil. This design feature led to a significant number of knives being returned by users for having a "bent blade", so Gerber discontinued that element on subsequent production runs.

At 12.75 inches (32.39 cm) long it has a 6.5 inch (16.5 cm) 420 HHC stainless steel double edged spear point wasp-waisted blade, weighs 8 ounces, and has a die cast aluminum handle. It has a distinctive look similar to that of the Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife developed during World War II for the British Commandos.

In the 1970s, the military's base/post exchanges discontinued selling these knives, reasoning that they were "not in good taste" or "too brutal". Al Mar, then working for Gerber as a knife designer, added the sawtooth serrations toward the hilt, marketing the knife as a "survival aid", making it more appealing to the PX System, which resumed selling the Mark II as a survival knife, rather than a fighting knife.

This knife is name engraved on the blade to CAPT. E. S. HOLMBERG / 084009. Captain Eugene Holmberg was given this knife as a promotion present from his father. Eugene Holmberg first enlisted in the Marine Corps on July 10, 1951 and soon found himself in Korea with Marine Attack Squadron (VMF-311) with Marine Air Group 33. We have not been able to find much on his Korean War service, but we did find an interesting story about him during the war.

Jet v. Biplane

“Eugene “Mule” Holmberg was a young Marine staff sergeant in 1953 when he was posted to VMF(N)-513 as a Skyknight radar operator. Holmberg immediately liked the big jet. Its roomy cockpit accommodated his sizable frame, and its Westinghouse AN/APQ-35 radar was the most formidable airborne radar system of the day. “I loved it, just a super plane for a night fighter,” he says. “Our planes had a track-while-scan capability that no one else had at the time.” The Skyknight’s radar system could lock on to a target and continue to search ahead for other threats.
The Polikarpovs were extraordinarily unsophisticated warplanes. Holmberg recalls that the backseater carried a submachine gun and that both pilot and backseater tossed mortar shells freehand over the side. “One dropped on a U.S. ammo dump, causing explosions and fires for three days,” says Holmberg. And Holmberg vividly remembers trying to down one of the elusive raiders. With the Skyknight’s radar, he had no trouble tracking the tiny biplane flying behind U.N. lines.
There were other complications. With the fighter’s radar locking on, Holmberg’s Marine pilot would make several runs at the PO-2, but despite clearance to do so, he refused to fire, fearing that the airplane’s 20-mm cannon would hit friendlies below. No one else observed such restraint, says Holmberg. The “friendly” troops below, spooked by multiple passes of a low-flying jet, began shooting into the night sky, and Holmberg saw muzzle flashes from the enemies’ return fire as they swept by on their ninth and final run, nearly colliding with the biplane.
“The pilot just wouldn’t pull the trigger,” says Holmberg, still annoyed after all these years. “Back at the base, I got out and threw my helmet to the ground in frustration.”
As frustrating as Holmberg’s experience was, it could have been worse. An Air Force F-94B Starfire crew trying to intercept a slow-flying PO-2 fatally collided with it on the third pass one February night in 1952.
One difficult threat to deal with was the nocturnal raids by Polikarpov PO-2s. The tiny wood-and-fabric biplanes were surprisingly destructive. Flying low and slow and at night, the Bedcheck Charlies, as they were called, were difficult to find, let alone shoot down.”

MAG-13 headquarters left Vietnam in September 1970 and returned to MCAS El Toro in October of that same year.

After serving with MAG-13, he flew with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 (VMFA-115) for 6 months, eventually transferring to VFMA-115 in Ops. They moved to Danang and he continued flying until he left Vietnam in November of 1970.

He flew a total of 180 missions during his second tour.

The wear on both the knife and sheath are consistent with service wear and use, but are without damage. There is some paint loss on the cast aluminum crossguard and pommell, but no corrosion is present. The blade is without any significant damage and all engraving is deeply made and still easily read. The sheath exhibits minor wear and is free of damage. The sheath is correct to the knife and the belt loop is marked with Gerber. The sheath also has a pistol belt brass hook attachment at the top.

Included in the grouping is a print out of an email between a previous owner and Captain Holmberg, confirming this knife is his and a brief history of when and where he carried it.

This is an incredible knife attributed to a member of the world’s finest fighting force, the United States Marine Corps. The knife comes more than ready for further research and display!

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