A story of helping a veteran

Merced, CA

Recently, a lady named Cynthia came to the post. She explained that she had bought an abandoned storage unit about eight years ago. Inside, she found some military items and personal effects of a Marine named Derrick. She was going to turn them over to someone back then, but she put the stuff away and forgot about it. Recently, she was going through things and came across the Marine's items again, and this time she called The American Legion and dropped off his stuff. She was hoping we might be able to locate him and return his things. Turned out she had his USMC training manuals, Marine graduation yearbook, dog tags, high school diploma, his mom’s obituary and a few other items. I knew these things had to mean something to Derrick. Who wouldn’t feel bad about losing those precious memories?

So, the search was on for this Marine. So many unanswered questions. Did he still live in the area? Was he still alive? Did he have any friends or family local? Was he still in the Marine Corps, or did he belong to any veterans organizations? I started with internet searches, the local phone book, and moved on to checking rosters of local veterans organizations. No luck. My next stop, the Merced County veterans service officer. Voila! A few days later, I had a call from Derrick. He seemed confused as to why I wanted to talk to him. All he said was that the service officer called and told him to call me. I explained what had happened and the items I had that belonged to him. He seemed a little stunned and said he left his storage in 2007. He had moved to Nevada after his mom passed and never went back to get his things. He said he thought he’d never see any of his possessions again. I told him that I’d get the stuff in the mail and he couldn’t tell me his mailing address fast enough. He expressed how grateful he was and couldn’t wait to see his stuff again and thanked me over and over.

Derrick is just one of many The American Legion helps. This is what we do. We are “Veterans Helping Veterans” and it feels good to do something for a fellow brother-in-arms.

I signed Derrick up for his first year as an American Legion member and added one of my commander coins with his membership card. When Derrick looks back on this, it won’t be the VFW, DAV, AMVETS, etc., that came through for him…...it will be a fond memory of The American Legion he will never forget. I wish Derrick many great years in our organization.

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