INDIANAPOLIS — Pat Davis got the surprise of a lifetime when family members tracked down the Purple Heart that belonged to her father and returned it to her on Christmas.
Davis found it hard to believe she was holding the medal in her hands.
“(I) just sat at the table and looked at it all night,” Davis said.
The Purple Heart was awarded to Davis’s father, Jackie Nesbit, after his death in 1945. Nesbit was a paratrooper who died in Operation Varsity in World War II.
“I’m proud to be his daughter,” Davis said.
Nesbit had married his high school sweetheart Elizabeth and was just 21 years old when he died.
“He called her princess. She was his princess and when he was stationed in Tennessee is when she found out that she was pregnant with me,” Davis said.
Nesbit would never get to meet Davis, who was just two months old when he died in battle.
His Purple Heart was lost during a family move, so she grew up with only stories and photos to hold onto.
“He looks like the typical All-American boy in his uniform, very proud,” Davis said.
Nearly 70 years later, Davis’s son-in-law tracked down that lost Purple Heart and got help from a blogger in California to raise $1,200 to buy it from a collector.
“There are people out there who I will never know that came together and made this happen. I’m very grateful,” Davis said.
Davis got that medal back as a surprise on Christmas. It’s a token of a father she never knew, who is closer now to her than ever.
“It’s a part of him that I never knew and I felt like he’s with me now,” Davis said.
Davis said that she knows there are many children out there who lost parents in war and never got a chance to know them. She hopes other families will see her story and know that medals and memorabilia can be found again and brought home.