Colt Automatic Pistol and Revolver Information - 25 years of Service to Colt Firearms Collectors


Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless .32 ACP - Issued to Major General Charles M. Duke, USA

Colt Model M .32 ACP serial number 568532 - Military Model M .32 ACP pistol, arsenal refinished finish, parkerized trigger, thumb safety and grip safety, with U.S. PROPERTY mark on right side of frame and ordnance wheel on left rear of frame behind thumb safety.  Pistol is documented as having been issued to Major General Charles Marsden Duke and is pictured with its original black Vietnam era holster.

Major General Charles M. Duke graduated from West Point with the famous class of 1939. He served in North Africa during WWII as an Army Engineer with an outfit called Darby's Rangers.

He also served in Korea and Viet Nam as a Combat Engineer. He commanded all Army engineers in Vietnam from 1968 to 1970.

Colt 1903 Pocket hammerless .32 ACP - serial number 568532 right side showing U.S. PROPERTY mark on frame.

USMA, The Howitzer, Class of 1939 - Charles Marsden Duke (bottom)


24 June 1917   Born, Texas

Graduated, USMA
1942 - 1944   Corps of Engineers: Nicaragua
1944 - 1945   Commanding Officer 30 Engineer Topographical Battalion Africa & HI
1945 - 1946

Office Chief of Engineers General Headquarters Tokyo (Legion of Merit)
1947   Masters of Science Civil Engineering Cal Tech
1947 - 1950   MA&E - Department of Military Art & Engineering, USMA
1951   CGSC - Command and general Staff College (School) Ft. Leavenworth
1951 - 1954   Log Division Headquarters European Command
1955 - 1956   East Ocean District, NY
1956 - 1958   Office Chief of Engineers (Commendation Ribbon)
1959 - 1962   Dist Engineer, US Engineer District, NYC
1962 - 1963   G4 I Corps Group, Korea
1963 - 1967   Engineer Command, Department of the Army, Washington, DC

18EBde (Bronze Star Medal - Air Medal)
1967 - 1968

Engineer & Commanding General Troops US Army, Vietnam (Distinguished Service Medal - Air Medal)
1968   Engineering Division, North Atlantic
1971   Retired
21 August 1976   Died, Fairfax, Virginia

Copy of letter and original index card from Rock Island Arsenal documenting issue of "Serial No. 568532, Pistol, Cal.. .32, Colt Issued to Brig Gen Charles M. Duke, Engineer Commissioner, District of Columbia.  Certificate sent Feb. 1965"

Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless .32 ACP serial number 568532 with original holster - holster still bears General Duke's name tag that was attached when he carried this pistol in Vietnam.

Charles M. Duke 1939
Cullum No. 11350 • Aug 21, 1976 • Died in Fairfax, VA
Interred in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA

Those who had the fortunate experience to know Charlie soon realized that he was a dedicated professional, a perfectionst, a leader, and a loyal friend. He enjoyed a reputation as a folksy figure, good-humored and mild-mannered as well as strong-minded. Throughout his Army career of over thirty-two years, his ability earned for him promotions to include star rank and challenging assignments to include command of all engineering troops in Vietnam.

Charles Marsden Duke was born in Jacksonville, Texas, on 24 June 1917. Appointed to the Military Academy upon graduation from high school, he was commissioned a second lieutenant, Corps of Engineers, on 12 June 1939. While at West Point he distinguished himself by wearing stars and by commanding "A" Company. His ready smile and engaging personality gained for him a host of friends.

Following graduation, his assignment to an engineer battalion engaged in survey and mapping operations along the East Coast, took him to North Carolina. There he met Vemice Lang Jones (his beloved Bunch) and they were married on 27 June 1942. His mapping assignment was continued in Nicaragua; then following short assignments in the States, he went overseas to command the 30th Engineer Battalion in Africa and Hawaii in 1944-1945.

After a short tour in the office of the Chief Engineer, Far East Command, Tokyo, he returned to the States for a year at California Institute of Technology where he earned a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering. In 1947 he commenced an enjoyable three-year tour at West Point as an instructor in the Department of Military Art and Engineering. This was followed by a student school assignment at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

During the period 1951-1954 Charlie, Bunch and son and daughter enjoyed three years in Heidelberg, Germany, where he was in the Logistics Division of the United States European Command. Back in the States he attended the Armed Forces Staff College and then served in the New York District Engineer’s office. After his next assignment of two years in the Office Chief of Engineers, Charlie attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces graduating in 1959. He returned to New York for three years as District Engineer and from there was ordered to Korea as G4, I Corps Croup.

As Engineer Commissioner, District of Columbia, 1963-1966, Charlie played a leading role in planning both freeway and subway systems. He was a member of the three-member Board of Commissioners and was well-known and respected for his leadership in directing the District’s governmental departments.

In 1957 Charlie was ordered to Vietnam to serve first as Commander of the 18th Engineer Brigade and then as Chief Engineer of the Army in Vietnam and commander of all engineering troops there. While in the latter command he was promoted to major general. For his final assignment Charlie returned to New York City as Division Engineer for the North Atlantic Division. There he was responsible for the Corps’ civil-works activities and administered the military construction program for the region.

Charlie retired in 1971 to a home that he and Bunch had built earlier in West Virginia near Harpers Ferry. However, a serious illness soon forced them to move to Fairfax, Virginia, where he died in a nursing home on 21 August 1976. He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

Charlie’s decorations included the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal, the Army Commendation Medal and numerous foreign decorations.

He is survived by his wife Vernice; a son, Charles M. Jr.; a daughter, Allyson Duke Newman; a brother William, and a grandson.

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