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Grandfather's WWII memorabilia found displayed in this forum


Submariner Granddaughter

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Submariner Granddaughter

I recently saw my grandfather's entire military memorabilia and medal collection displayed on this site. My grandfather thought he was "donating" his entire collection to a military museum in the late 1980's. My family just recently saw it here. I am in disbelief and heartbroken that he was swindled and our family now deprived of his belongings. Any advice? I've reached out to the poster and offered to reimburse him for whatever money he paid for our family heirlooms but just curious if anyone else has had a similar experience. My grandfather has one living child left and several grand and great-grandchildren. We'd love to have his memories returned to us. 

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Thor996

All you can do is ask the present owner to sell. When items are 'donated' to museums, people are usually handed paperwork advising them that the museum can sell them should they decide to. Museums sell items all the time that are donated and it's perfectly legal for them to do.

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Submariner Granddaughter

Thank you for this information. I did not know this. It would have been nice if the museum tried to contact our family to see if we'd like first right of refusal. We had the same address and phone number until three years ago when my grandmother passed away. So frustrating. Perhaps the person who owns the collection now will allow us to purchase it back. I've reached out. 

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Thor996

You're welcome. Unfortunately, this happens more than you think it does. I don't believe museums are under any obligation to reach out to donors when they decide to sell the items. People really should read the fine print and ask questions when they donate items. It is my understanding that not every item that is donated will wind up on display. many items sit in museum archives and drawers and when the museum feels the items no longer fit their scope they can be sold. I learned my lesson many, many years ago when I donated a fossil to a local museum that I thought was really special. When I went back to see it years later, I could not find it and when asked was told that 'nobody had any idea' of whet happened to it. 

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Submariner Granddaughter

Well, this person has my grandfather's entire collection from ID cards to personal photos, letters from commanders and all of his medals. My grandfather was very organized. Hopefully the current owner will be willing to part with it, and this time, it will stay in the family!

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Bob Hudson

I have never heard of museums reaching out to families to return artifacts the museum no longer wants (the only exception I've seen are Native American artifacts). Generally speaking if a veteran's artifacts show up in a collection it's because some family member gave them away, or - more commonly - sold them. I tell people that museums are like ice bergs - the items you see displayed are just the small tip: the bulk of the artifacts are hidden away in basement storage, never to be seen again, not even on a collectors website.

 

Users of this forum have probably read about examples where a kind-hearted collector gave artifacts to a veteran's family only to see them show up for sale on ebay. There's also the question of who is family? Is it the vets kids and grand kids and nieces and nephews and second cousins (yes we have seen distant cousins claim they were entitled to something - for free yet. If a collector does consider returning something, they will often ask current market value, not what they paid for it. 

 

This topic is discussed in depth at https://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/75650-when-the-family-comes-calling/

 

 

 

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Always interesting how families have stuff "stolen", or are "ripped off", or some other form of malice that initiates the problem.  It's never an admission that things were sold, thrown away, consigned to auction, given away, or some other cause like many of us see every day in the collecting hobby.

 

Then, at least on public sites like this forum, the veteran is always a hardcore combat vet.  Paratroopers, pilots, submariners, prisoners of war, etc.  When was the last time someone was on KP duty at a base stateside?

 

Good luck in your quest.  At least perhaps whoever the current owner is will take your contact information and be willing to do something at some point.

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Submariner Granddaughter

I hear ya. I remember the day the guy came to our house and took my grandfather's stuff away. My grandmother was upset. I was 19 so I didn't really care much at the time and it was my grandfather's choice. Now that most of my family is gone, I'm more sentimental about family history. I'm not trying to get anything for free, I will reimburse this guy for what he paid. He's been in touch and is being very kind. My dad and I are pretty much all that's left of my grandfather (and my 2 boys, of course). There won't be any other family fighting for his history.

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Submariner Granddaughter

I don't know if my grandfather was a hero or not but he had loads of medals and never met a stranger. He never wanted to talk about the war. I don't know if he was swindled or the museum was legit and just wanted to sell off some excess, it doesn't really matter. He did what he thought was right, he didn't sell his stuff, he was pretty well off by then.  But as I sit here in my tiny housing in northern Iraq, I feel a bit closer to him, I can understand how his experience would be intensely personal. Not all who serve are heros, but he was definitelty my hero. He was a good man, was married to my gran for over 50 years and taught me how to take care of myself and be a decent human. He was truly one of the good ones. 

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kfields

I wish you luck in acquiring your grandfather's items. 

I can relate a bit. One of my uncle's who served in WW2 had a nice shadow box with his medals, dogtags, patches. He had no children but had decided to donate it to some local fellow who had his own museum. Very mysterious but I smelled a rat. Never learned where this "museum" was. BUT it was his decision. 

I LOVE museums but would never donate any of my items to one of them for reasons mentioned here as well as for other reasons.

Don't be upset with the current owner of your grandfather's medals as he's done nothing inappropriate. Do keep lines of communications open and maybe you'll get an opportunity to purchase it back in the future.

Good luck!

Kim

 

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tdogchristy90

Ma’am, To piggy back on what Kim said, I would also recommend that if the current owner does not want to sell, see if they’d be willing to send you some nice quality photos or copies of documentation of the group as a keep sake. That way you’ll at least have the story/background on your relative.

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I Hate Moths

Submariner Granddaughter:

  You are fortunate to find reference to your Grandfathers military history. Some in the military collecting community will post named items  with broken script. such as Smith being Smi//th. They do not want every brother, cousin, nephew, and so on laying claim to things that they worked very hard to acquire

It is certainly a great grouping.

 

https://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/115239-wwii-uss-crevalle-sailors-grouping-bronze-star/

 

 

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My favorite gripe is the museum at March Field. For decades vets had donated to that museum and the displays were fantastic. As a kid I loved it when we stopped by to visit. My grandparents lived in the area. The donations were by WW2 vets and covered all branch's and all theaters. It was a stunning collection. They hired a new curator and almost everything went away. Today the "museum" is the cream of what they had as it relates to aviation. This week I found out the museum is selling more items to people who work for the museum or are connected in other ways. The  "sale" is not open to the public. I came by photo's of some of the items being sold from a friend of a friend and they are the larger items outside or in the parts warehouse.

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dhcoleterracina

I had donated to March in the past as well. I'm long past repeating mistakes a second time. 

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Skysoldier80

I am truely sorry to hear about this.  I really hope the current owner gives it back even it it costs you.

 

this is a great lesson about donating to VFW, American Legions, Museums etc.  either someone who works there or they go out of business- BLUF it disappears. There was a recent American Legion near my current location who had donations dating back to WWI that had to closed down.  Everything went to auction.  Now my neighbor is trying to find his grandfathers items.  He was never notified.  Another recent story, the National US Army History Museum few years ago sent out mass messages asking for donations and tons of families sent stuff in.  Just a few months ago the museum announced they were auctioning off all duplicates.  How is that for integrity.

 

I had once thought about donating my Great Grandpas stuff to the WWI museum and after reading about tons of stories like this; I will never do that.  If family doesn’t want it- I will sell or even give it to a friend.

 

Please keep us posted.

 

if you can provide tangible proof it is to ur Grandfathers, I will even help to get it back.

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Submariner Granddaughter

I sent the owner my grandparents wedding photo and offered to send my birth certificate and my father's birth certificate. He believes I am who I am and has offered to sell everything back to me for what he paid for it. I'm currently in Iraq and waiting for R&R to go back to NC and buy it then. I don't trust getting mail here, I've had too many things get "lost". So, this story has a happy ending.

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15 minutes ago, Submariner Granddaughter said:

I sent the owner my grandparents wedding photo and offered to send my birth certificate and my father's birth certificate. He believes I am who I am and has offered to sell everything back to me for what he paid for it. I'm currently in Iraq and waiting for R&R to go back to NC and buy it then. I don't trust getting mail here, I've had too many things get "lost". So, this story has a happy ending.

Good for you and lucky too! Congrads!!

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Skysoldier80

This is great news.  Most people I. This hobby have integrity and if they call themselves “keepers and preservers of history” they would gladly do that!  I am so happy for u that the current owner is willing to finally sell it back.

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PMAN12094

This is making me wonder what my grandfather that was in the navy did with the stuff he had I wish he had kept his dog tags I'm sure I wont find it. We have a phot book of some pics he took in Korea i'm thinking he did this in the mid to late 50s I was surprised he didnt get rid of that. I don't think he would have like to talk about his service even if he could have.

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BILL THE PATCH

Awesome news!!, Make sure you show what your grandfathersedals on here. Would love to see them. Love happy endings

Sent from my moto g(7) play using Tapatalk

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