Gulfport man seeks owner of military medals lost during Katrina - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Gulfport man seeks owner of military medals lost during Katrina

Hurricane Katrina's storm surge destroyed or displaced so many personal belongings. But Ron Roland would like to find the family that's missing this unique memento. (Photo source: WLOX) Hurricane Katrina's storm surge destroyed or displaced so many personal belongings. But Ron Roland would like to find the family that's missing this unique memento. (Photo source: WLOX)
The soldier's keepsake contained medals from World War II and Vietnam. (Photo source: WLOX) The soldier's keepsake contained medals from World War II and Vietnam. (Photo source: WLOX)
If you have any information about the shadow box and military medals, contact Steve Phillips at sphillips@wlox.com. (Photo source: WLOX) If you have any information about the shadow box and military medals, contact Steve Phillips at sphillips@wlox.com. (Photo source: WLOX)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

A Gulfport man is looking for the owner of a military keepsake he discovered after Hurricane Katrina. Buried in the hurricane debris near his home: A shadow box with eleven military medals inside.

“I found this. Of course, it didn't look like this. It was filled with mud," said Roland, as he showed off the shadow box, “We called it Katrina mud and if you remember how bad that Katrina mud smelled, it was completely filled with mud.”

Ron Roland didn't realize it at the time. That muddy shadow box he pulled from the storm debris had 11 military medals on display.

“The glass was not broken. And I cleaned out all the mud. I took it apart and cleaned it out. And washed off the medals as best as I could,” he recalled.

Roland and his son, Justin, rode out Katrina on the second floor of his home less than two blocks from the beach. The storm surge was relentless.

"One swirl of water came by and took out the whole kitchen. All the appliances, the wall.  Everything."

When Katrina finally subsided, they found the enormous debris field strewn across their Second Street neighborhood.

"These are just pictures of the area, after the debris," he said, while sorting through a stack of storm photos, "And you can see no houses, just pieces of houses there. But quite a, quite a mess."

Buried in that mess, a soldier's keepsake with medals from World War II and Vietnam.

"It was right under that piece of chair," said Roland, pointing to a photograph, "That's where I found it. And this was a day or two after the storm."

Roland knows what it's like to both lose belongings to the storm and find personal mementos once thought lost.

"I did find my college degree three blocks away on the other side of Owen Palmer Park, along with some pictures of my children," he said.

Now, he'd like nothing better, than to reunite this keepsake with its rightful owner.

"I would be delighted to give it back to this man's relatives.  He certainly deserves the honor of having this displayed somewhere in someone's home."

If you have any information about the shadow box and military medals, contact Steve Phillips at sphillips@wlox.com

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