“It said that somebody had found my Purple Heart,” Gus Allbritton, 71, recounted about a message that was left for him at the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Georgia. And there was a Florida phone number for Jamie Bath. “
Allbritton is a Vietnam veteran who was deployed with the 173rd Infantry Regiment from 1969-1970. He was wounded three times during the war: when he was shot in the shoulder by an AK-47, when he was shot in the groin, legs and feet, and also when a rocket-propelled grenade was launched into his bunker, Stars and Stripes reported. Three Purple Hearts were awarded to him, which he then gave two to his children and one he kept.
In 1983, while he was working as a sheriff’s deputy in Florida, he was the victim of a burglary. The Purple Heart was kept safe in a large bottle with coins and pocket knives.
Vietnam veteran receives third Purple Heart twice
His house was ransacked during the burglary, and the bottle containing the medal was taken.
“When the water bottle and all its contents had been taken, I thought that it was gone. Allbritton recalled that he realized that it would never be seen again. It was reported missing but it seemed unlikely that it would be returned. “
Decades later, an estate sale specialist in Florida named Jaime Bath said he picked up the medal at a yard sale for $2.
Bath saw an inscribed on the medal that read, “For Military Merit-Gus A. Allbritton. “
The Purple Heart of the United States Military
“It was a war medal, and I knew it must mean a lot to the person who’d earned it,” Bath said. It was right to give it back. “
Bath found Allbritton at his local VA. The Vietnam veteran volunteers there and asked him if he would like to return the medal.
” I was shocked. How did something as small as that medal turn up after 38 years?” Allbritton stated.
“When Jamie called and said he’d like to mail me back my medal, I gave him my address. It arrived in a small box a few days later. He did it because it was a humanitarian act. “