Purple Heart returned to Middle Georgia veteran after nearly 40 years
After a burglary almost 4 decades ago, a Dublin veteran got his Purple Heart back.
DUBLIN, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT )- More than 1.8 million Purple Hearts have been awarded in the United States since 1932.
These special medals are only given to those wounded or killed in action. Dublin veteran Gus Albritton has been honored with three in his lifetime.
“When I came back from Vietnam in Fort Hood, Texas, they had an award ceremony for the guys that had medals and awards coming but hadn’t been presented to them,” Allbritton explained. “We all stood out on parade field and they came and pinned the medals on us.”
One night in 1983, while living in Florida, three purple hearts turned into two.
“I was burglarized, and during the burglary, I had this large 5-gallon glass water bottle,” Albritton explained. “I had change, money, jewelry, pocket knives, and I put my purple heart down in it too. During the burglary, I don’t know who it was, he must have been quite a man to pick that bottle of change up and everything, but it went missing.”
Albritton searched for years, thinking the thief may have left it behind. His searches never turned up anything. He made peace with the fact that he might never see the medal again, until the day his Purple Heart came searching for him.
“This is the first one I’ve ever actually seen,” Jamie Bath said. “My wife and I like to do a lot of estate sales and yard sales on weekends and it just happened to be at someone’s yard sale.”
Bath, a South African native who now lives in Brooksville, Florida, says he was shocked to see a purple heart with a $2 price tag attached.
“I had heard of them before, and I know there are various websites where you can trace the owners of them and give them back, and I figured it was the right thing to do,” he said.
After a phone conversation, and Albritton giving his address, the Purple Heart finally returned home.
“It’s taken quite a journey you might say, but it’s good to have it back,” Albritton said.
Albritton says he’s never letting this one out of his sight again, and it will stay with him in his pocket at all times.
If you ever come across a purple heart, visit https://purpleheartsreunited.org/lost-purple-hearts/lost-hearts-database/ to try to reunite the medal with its owner.
The link includes a list of names of veterans who have lost their medals, and this link, https://purpleheartsreunited.org/contact-us/ , is the contact information for Purple Hearts Reunited to let them know you have found a Purple Heart.