DUBLIN, Ga. — 38 years.
That’s the amount of time Gus Allbritton spent without the Purple Heart he earned for his service in Vietnam… until now.
Allbritton graduated from high school on a Friday in the late 1960s, and by Monday, he was training to be an Army Infantryman after receiving a draft notice.
He served in Vietnam from 1969-70 and received his third Purple Heart prior to completing his enlistment.
Following his discharge, he went back home to Florida to start a career in law enforcement. His home was burglarized in 1983 – the thief stole a large glass bottle containing his Purple Heart.
Allbritton thought he’d never see it again.
Fast forward to 2021 when a man named Jamie Bath found himself sorting through items at a flea market table. There, he discovered a Purple Heart.
An engraving on the back said, “Gus A. Allbritton – for Military Merit.”
Bath took it home to see if he could find the rightful owner. He tracked down Allbritton, who has volunteered at the Dublin VA for 30 years and racked up 35,000 hours of volunteer time, through social media posts.
The two men connected over the phone, and Allbritton realized what he thought was long gone had been found.
Bath mailed the medal to him, reuniting the veteran with his missing medallion.
“I couldn’t believe that after all this time my Purple Heart is back where it belongs,” said Allbritton. “I gave the other two to my kids, one to my daughter and the other to my son. I think I’ll keep this to myself as the Good Lord gave me another opportunity to care for it.”