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A hat returned 50 years later


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I figured this belonged here. At the University I teach at one day I get a call from the mail room. They had a box with no return address and a note saying "I stole this hat from Col. Gabe as a prank and regretted it ever since, please return it to him."


I'm the resident military nerd, so they called me. The hat in question is a early '60s custom job from Flight Ace, with O-5 "scrambled eggs" on the visor. There was a "property of" card in the crown so that made my job a little easier. Also, this hat was one of the smallest military hats I've ever come across, size 6 and 3/8s.


It took about a day but I found that Don Gabe had been a Professor of Military Science for the ROTC program in the middle 1960s. He had a decent career as a Engineer, eventually retiring as a full Colonel. After I found that I set about looking for his family. That was kinda bleak as it looks like he lost two children early on and his wife passed in 2008. He died in 2013. I found his surviving son, I thought, so I shot an e-mail to him. And I was right! It was one of the weird "out of the blue" moments for him.


So last week I sent the hat back to his son. A fun little story with a great ending.






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