A recent success story. I picked up an unnamed medal grouping a couple years ago. Only provenance was a newspaper article attributing the medal to an African American who served in the 366 IR, 92nd ID. He initially trained to be a Tuskagee Airman however was called up to ship to Italy with Infantry. While in Italy, he was wounded. I later learned from his son the circumstances of his wounds, which is quite compelling.Links further below.
Details of the grouping can be found below:
Through that thread, I was contacted by a friend of the son of the veteran. He was looking to reclaim the medals for the family, who was unaware they were found. We took the discussion off of the forum. He confirmed through the granddaughter of the vet that the medals were in fact her grandfathers. This was a concern of mine as the only link was the article, which could have easily been added. They were "lost" (unsure of details) during the disposition of the vet's estate.
Long story short, I sent the medals to the friend of the family who in turn gave them to the family on Easter Sunday. In all honesty, however, I did request I be reimbursed what I paid for the medals, which the friend gladly agreed to.
Skip a head to a little over a month later, and I received this note from the son of the vet:
First, I want to say that I owe you a debt of gratitude for your extremely respectful treatment of my father’s legacy. Your interest in this part of America’s history is, clearly, of tremendous value to our society. The proof: But for your genuine interest and effort, those medals might have languished in that storefront or, worse, in someone’s basement, objects of mild curiosity to a few, lost to a larger audience greatly interested in this seminal period of U.S. history. Without question, they would have been lost to our family for good. Your search for additional information about my father, and your posting what you found in so professional and courteous a manner was extremely reassuring. The respectful treatment of the accomplishments of African-Americans was (and remains) something not guaranteed, as you may recall from my father’s obituary in the Boston Globe (which you thoughtfully included in your U.S. Militaria Forum posting). While I was filled with dread when we first realized that you posting was, in fact, my father, I experienced an equal amount of relief and joy to see the care and sensitivity reflected in your work.
Second, I want to thank you for responding in so honorable a manner to my dear and lifelong friend, Bill. I’m sure you easily recognized in Bill a friend of extraordinary qualities. My father certainly did and, while likely not surprised at all by the generosity of this friend, he would have been very proud and impressed. My father would have also appreciated your being so straight-forward, reasonable and upright in accommodating our goal of securing the safe return of these lost pieces of family history. While he was extremely circumspect about his combat experience, and regularly focused his anecdotes on the more ordinary aspects of his relationships with his fellow soldiers and their wartime experience, a delayed public acknowledgement of a fellow officer’s bravery provided us with new and enlightening details of the battle in which he was wounded.
With apologies for the brevity of this bit of history (I, like Bill, am in the middle of a very challenging and busy stretch), I thought you might appreciate knowing the following, and having a couple of links to details that I believe you will appreciate.
In short, my father was in command of one of two platoons that were positioned in the town of Sommocolonia, Italy on Christmas 1944. He was involved in a surprise attack by Italian and German soldiers who, dressed in civilian clothes, had infiltrated the mountaintop town during at attacked during Christmas night. By the morning of December 26th, most of the men in both platoons had been killed and my father had been badly wounded by bullets or grenade fragments, he never knew which. (The evidence of significant multiple wounds was clear.) It was close-quarters fighting that was hand-to-hand for some. What happened next is documented well in the citation for Lt. John Fox, a fellow officer in the 366th. (Please see the link below.) My father, suffice to say, survived the three days it took to carry him down the mountains from the front lines to a field hospital.
Again, please accept my sincere and heartfelt thanks for how you have handled the discovery, retrieval, exposition and return of my father’s wartime medals. I wish you the best.