Vietnam vet finds stolen purple heart nearly 40 years later

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Almost 40 years ago, a veteran’s home in Florida was broken into. Among the stolen goods was his Purple Heart medal. Just recently a man stumbled across this same medal at a garage sale and was able to reunite it with the veteran.

NBC affiliate station WMGT reported that Gus Albritton, who now lives in Dublin, Georgia, has been honored with three Purple Heart Medals throughout his military career. He told the media outlet that after returning from Vietnam to Fort Hood, Texas, an awards ceremony was held for the veterans.

In 1983, his house was broken into and one of his medals was stolen.

“I was robbed, and during the robbery I had this large 5 gallon glass water bottle,” Albritton told WMGT. “I had change, money, jewelry, pocket knives, and I put my Purple Heart in there too. During the robbery, I don’t know who it was, it must have been a sacred man to pick up that bottle of change and everything, but he’s gone. “

According to the Military Order of the Purple Heart, these awards are given to those who served in the United States armed forces who were wounded or killed in action. This medal, the organization noted, is specifically a combat decoration.

A Vietnam veteran has recovered his Purple Heart medal which was stolen from his home after nearly 40 years. Above, a Purple Heart medal is seen during a Purple Heart ceremony.
Alex Wong / Getty Images

Over time, Albritton believed the coin was lost forever until he heard from Jamie Bath, a resident of Brooksville, Florida.

While browsing a garage sale, he stumbled across the medal priced at $ 2. Originally born in South Africa, Bath told WMGT he had heard of the prestigious award and knew there were ways to find the owners. Purple Hearts Reunited is one of those non-profit organizations that makes missing Purple Hearts for veterans or a veteran’s family.

“It’s the first one I have ever seen,” he said. “My wife and I like to do a lot of house sales and yard sales on weekends and that was just at someone’s yard sale.”

When Bath saw the medal, he said returning it to the veteran who received it “was the right thing to do.”

Bath was able to come into contact with Albritton and the medal was returned to its owner decades later.

News week reported in August that a Purple Heart was stolen and traded for soda in North Carolina.

Erica Laws, the daughter of a soldier from two missions during the Vietnam War, said her family home was broken into and her Purple Heart Medal and other military honors were missing. After reviewing the security footage, investigators identified the suspected thief as Charles Carr.

Reports said the Purple Heart Medal was returned to the family, but the other medals were still missing.

News week has reached out to Jamie Bath for further comment, but has not had a response at time of posting.


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