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Editor’s Note: Combat Handguns pays $100 for each “It Happened To Me!” letter that we print. Send yours to Combat Handguns, 1115 Broadway, New York, NY 10010. Attention: “It Happened To Me!” or e-mail to tactical-life@harris-pub.com

In 1995, as an unarmed citizen, I was robbed by two gun-toting men at a gas station and was almost murdered because the crooks were angry that I didn’t have more than $13 on me. Since then, I’ve obtained my CCW permit and a 1911 .45 ACP, a weapon I was familiar with from my days in the military. I’ve since carried the .45 almost daily in an inside-the-waistband holster.

Several years later, I was on my way into town to pick up my son from college and bring him home for the Thanksgiving holiday. The shortest route to him was by back roads. En-route the car overheated on a deserted stretch of country road. I pulled over and raised the hood to find a leak in the radiator hose. Almost immediately, I heard a vehicle pull up behind my car. As I peered around the hood, I saw two shaggy-looking young men get out of an old beat-up truck.

“Need any help?” the driver asked. “Yeah,” I said. “You don’t happen to have any radiator fluid, do you?” “That depends,” he said. “How much money you got on you?” My danger antenna immediately went up as I watched the passenger begin to move towards me along the far side of my car.

“Never mind,” I answered. “I think I can make it to the next gas station.” “I said,” the driver responded as he also began to move forward, “how much money you got on you?” Instinctively, I edged my left shoulder to the driver, swept my jacket back with my right hand, and grasped the grip of the .45. I didn’t pull it from the IWB holster, and it was still out-of-sight of the two young men, but they both stopped when they saw my movement.

“Thirteen dollars,” I answered, “and I keep it here in my pocket, right next to my .45.” The two men looked at each other and I could see the wheels turning in their heads, wondering if I was bluffing and whether it would be worth calling my bluff for $13. Finally the passenger started retreating back to his own vehicle. “C’mon, Tom,” he said. “Let’s go.”

Without a word, Tom got into his truck and the two drove off. As they passed me, I kept my hand on the grip of the .45 until they were some distance down the road. Then I patched the leak as best I could with duct tape and nursed my car safely to a farmhouse where I got some water for the radiator. After a stop at the next gas station, where I replaced the hose, I made it safely to my son and back home—where we all enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday together.

Although I didn’t have to pull my weapon, or even show it, the situation could have turned out much differently had I not gained the confidence that the .45 and the CWP training gave me.

—GW, FL

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