Purple Heart stolen from Vietnam vet returned nearly 40 years later: ‘I couldn’t believe it’

A Vietnam veteran is back in possession of his Purple Heart after it was stolen from him nearly 40 years ago during a burglary.

“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.

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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 his third Purple Heart – twice

Vietnam veteran receives third Purple Heart twice
(https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage)

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. “

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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. “

A United States Military Purple Heart

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.

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“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. “

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