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Paul L. Livoli was born in Cambridge, MA on October 19, 1941. He was raised and educated in Waltham, MA and earned his Associate’s Degree in Engineering. Paul was a U.S. Marine Corp 3 rd Division veteran and served two tours in Vietnam. He was a highly decorated veteran having earned three Bronze Stars, a Silver Star, two Purple Hearts and the Navy Cross. A military history buff, he owned Paul’s Historical Military Store in Milford, NH.

Handmade Vietnamese break action, single shot pistol that resembles a flare gun. The caliber is about 410 and the barrel is 3 ½ long. The right side of the frame has two Asian characters that translated mean "Gun 6" but the pistol is otherwise unmarked

The letters authenticity was confirmed by his son Dennis who stated he asked to hear the story of the pistols capture which his dad agreed to tell him. Unfortunately, he passed unexpectedly before that conversation happened. My dad didn't talk much about his time in the service and always told me that our family has given enough blood for this country and I was to go to college. It is only by the letter you provided that I now know he was in the 3rd Marines. I didn't even know he was awarded the Navy Cross (or even what it was) until just about a year before he passed. It took me a little while to get up the nerve to ask him too. When I did, I told him I wasn't sure I had the right to know as I didn't serve. He chuckled and said I run into burning buildings for a living, I could handle his story. It was during this conversation he did tell me about what it was like coming home from Vietnam. Having to change out of his uniform in airport bathrooms just so the cab would stop.

Mr Livoil may have had some mental decline as the letter was written a few months before he passed. I didn't want to ask his son about that because it would be inappropriate. I'm having trouble finding anymore information on Mr Livoli, He saw some heavy combat during his two tours!
Revolver Air gun Trigger Gun barrel Gun accessory
Air gun Trigger Revolver Gun barrel Gun accessory
Handwriting Rectangle Font Writing Parallel
 

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I knew Paul. He was a good guy. I’m sorry to hear that he passed away.
 

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I used to see Paul when he had tables at the Big-E gun show in Springfield, Massachusetts. Over the years I purchased some guns, bayonets, and pieces of militaria from him but I can’t for the life of me remember what exactly. It was enough that I got to know him well enough that he would let me store my purchases under his table while I raced through the rows to find more and more great pieces. The Big-E show, from the late ‘80s to the late ‘90s, was incredible and I always went home with treasures.

I don’t want to give the the impression that Paul and I were especially close. He was a gun show friend. Someone who I enjoyed seeing, dealing with, and hanging out at his table as we talked about the usual topics that we all discuss at gun shows. I knew he was a Vietnam vet but I can’t recall ever having in-depth discussions about his tours. What we did discuss was my fascination with Vietnam bringbacks and I would always jokingly greet him with the question of “What bringbacks did you bring for me today?”

As I mentioned my memory is failing me right now and I can’t recall that I ever did get a bringback from him. I collect so many different things and Paul had quite a variety of merchandise on his tables. I purchased more than a few items from him but I don’t think any Vietnam trophy guns.

Over the ten or fifteen years I saw him at the show Paul had four, maybe five, crude, handmade semi-auto pistols for sale on his tables. All similar but no two exactly alike. He never said that he personally brought them home from Vietnam and the impression I got is that he simply picked them up in the course of his wheeling and dealing at gun shows, flea markets, and whatever other sources he had.

Unfortunately I never saw the single shot piece you just obtained and Paul never told me anything about it.

Because I live in New York, back then and now, the paperwork and the hassle of purchasing a handgun, any handgun, was huge and I never gave any thought to purchasing any of these pieces.

I should note that I was never entirely certain that any of these clearly handmade pistols were definitely Vietnam bringbacks. My opinion back then was that these guns were more likely made in a Chinese workshop than anywhere in Vietnam. They were crude copies of various Browning designs. Barrels that extended past the slide and round bottom grip frames are a couple of features I recall. I’m almost certain that all these pistols were machined/filed out of solid pieces of steel as opposed to the various laminated sheet metal and multi-piece formed frames and slides typical of Vietnam.

It goes without saying that given the tremendous number of firearms China provided to North Vietnam all sorts of locally manufactured pieces could have been mixed in with the more traditional guns and any one of these guns could be bringbacks. I just had my doubts.

Because you can’t read my mind and I can’t adequately describe what I saw decades ago I’ll try to find some photos online that look like what I’m remembering. I know that Ian McCollum had a video and a short article on Chinese workshop guns so I’ll see what I can find.

I was always disappointed that none of the handmade pistols gave me the Vietnam vibe. If any were similar to the various 1911 designs that I know came back I would have gone through the hassle to arrange a transfer to a New York dealer. But that’s not what he had. :(

I’m sorry that I can give you no information about your new handgun. I will say that its design and the method of fabrication do give me the Vietnam vibe that his other handmade pistols didn’t.
 

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Very nice! I like it. 👍
 
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