Local Marine wanted Rene Gagnon’s Iwo Jima knife, but fell short

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‘It’s actually hard to explain to civilians how iconic a battle it is to Marines.’  – USMC Cpl. James Provencher

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MANCHESTER, NHRene Gagnon’s old U.S. Marine knife is off the auction block, and available.

For those who read with interest on Thursday about the Nate D. Sanders auction of this rare piece of WWII history, the good news for you is that the knife didn’t sell at auction, and can still be yours.

Yes, it’s up for grabs, says Linda Yntema, of the California-based auction house.

Manchester's Rene Gagnon lives on in this iconic Iwo Jimo image.
Manchester’s Rene Gagnon lives on in this iconic Iwo Jimo image.

“The knife didn’t sell in last night’s auction, and is available for private sale now. If any of your readers are interested, please have them feel free to contact us,”  said Yntema

Marine Cpl. James Provencher, a 2010 graduate of Central High School, decided to make the call.

“I thought it would be the coolest thing to own because Iwo Jima is a legendary battle to Marines; it’s actually hard to explain to civilians how iconic a battle it is to Marines. And with the 70th anniversary [of the battle of Iwo Jima] last week, it was still fresh in my mind,” said Provencher, who is stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, in San Diego, Calif.

Provencher, who joined the Marines in May of 2011, said he’d learned about Rene Gagnon and Manchester’s connection to the battle of Iwo Jima in high school history class with teacher David Boutin.

USMC Cpl. James Provencher.
USMC Cpl. James Provencher.

“When I read about the auction, it was cool because I personally related to it on a Marine level, and the fact that I’m from the same city as Rene,” Provencher said.

When he found out that the knife didn’t sell during the auction, he decided to call and see if he could buy it.

“I called them and told them I was an active duty Marine from the same city as Rene Gagnon, and I tried to see what they were selling it for. They said they pretty much wanted asking price from the auction, but they still asked me to make an offer. Obviously I didn’t have an extra 11 grand sitting around so I said that I didn’t want to disrespect them with my offer but the highest I could do was about a thousand dollars. She told me she was sorry but she had talked to the owner earlier today and she was sure that wasn’t high enough. I said I understood, and told her to have a nice day,” Provencher said.

The metal knife has a wooden handle imprinted at the base as follows:  ”Camillus, New York / U.S.M.C.” It measures 12 inches in total length. There is some tarnishing to the blade and paint splatters to base of the handle. It’s from the estate of Rene Gagnon and accompanied by a COA from his son.

Yntema would not disclose whether there is a minimum price for the knife. If you’d like to negotiate a deal, call Yntema at (310) 440-2982.

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About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!