Clara Chandler moved back to Macon after her husband died in 2005.
She had been away for 43 years. They lived in Washington, D.C., where Hugh Chandler, a retired Army corporal, had worked in civil service at Andrews Air Force Base.
Hugh originally was from Vidalia. Clara (Banks) grew up in the Unionville neighborhood and attended Ballard-Hudson High until her family moved to New York City.
Clara was working in the commissary at Andrews AFB when she met Hugh. They married on Aug. 25, 1984.
Her husband earned six medals for his service during the Korean War. He was awarded the Purple Heart after his tank was hit by enemy fire in January 1952. He suffered shrapnel wounds in his head and hands.
Clara never could display her husbands medals because he was always pulling them out and wearing them. He marched in parades and attended other events for veterans.
He wore them every opportunity he had, she said.
He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in April 2005. Clara came home to Macon six months after he died. She bought a house off Mercer University Drive and lived with her sister for five months while it was being renovated. She placed her belongings in a storage unit on Riverside Drive.
Clara moved into her new home in March 2006. As she unpacked the dishes, linens, books and framed photographs, she noticed something was missing. She could not find her husbands medals. She was distraught.
After several frustrating months, she started the paperwork to have them replaced. When the new medals arrived, she was grateful. They may have been replacement medals, but they were a way to remember her husband and his service to our country.
One day, she was searching for a photograph of her wedding to hang in her bedroom. While sorting through a box of keepsakes, she discovered the missing-in-action medals.
Her emotions were a combination of joy, relief and embarrassment. She was torn between whether to keep the replacement medals or to send them back. It wasnt as simple as returning a set of borrowed keys.
She framed the original medals and hung them on a wall in her living room. She put the replacement medals in a closet until she could figure out what to do.
I didnt know if I should send them back or if they would even take them back, she said. If I returned them, what would I tell them? So I decided to keep them. My husband would have wanted me to bless somebody. When I read about Mr. Frank Jackson, then I knew.
The column on Frank Jackson ran on July 24. His five medals from two wars -- World War II (April 1943 to February 1946) and Korea (December 1952 to May 1954) -- had either been lost or stolen.
(His family believes he also should have received a Purple Heart for the wounds he suffered as a POW in the South Pacific in World War II. However, the military has no documentation of it.)
Reading about Mr. Jackson touched my heart. I believe God was guiding me to keep those medals for the purpose of giving them to him, Clara said. But I had to know I was following protocol, doing it the right way and that he was entitled to them.
She got in touch with Jacksons daughters, Linda White and Cathy Maclin. She contacted Kesha Walker, a family readiness support assistant with the U.S. Army Reserve Center in Macon. She also wrote letters to President Obama and Erik Shinseki, the U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs.
According to Jacksons military records, he earned the Victory Medal and Lapel Button in World War II. He was awarded the Korean Service Medal (with one bronze service star), the National Defense Service Medal and the United Nations Service Medal for Korea.
Clara had all three of those medals from Korea, except for one additional bronze service star. She arranged with Walker and the Jackson family to have the medals presented at his home on Hanson Street this past Saturday afternoon, three weeks after his 89th birthday.
Walker said it was an unusual case. She said she had never heard of a request from a widow to give her husbands replacement medals to a veteran who had earned them but did not have them.
How could I not help this family? Walker said. We tried to keep it as simple as possible. We were giving a veteran something he had already earned.
It was ceremonial, not official. Walkers husband, retired Col. Michael Walker, and Jacksons son-in-law, retired Master Sgt. Robert White, made the presentation on behalf of the family.
Linda White said the event was low-key. The media were not invited. It was held on the front porch. She emphasized the ceremony was a beautiful gesture on the part of Clara, and that her husband and Col. Walker were in uniform representing the family, not the Army.
Clara showed Jackson a photograph of her husband and explained the story of the medals. She considered it an honor to be able to share them.
Thank you, Jackson told her. God bless you.
Reach Gris at 744-4275 or firstname.lastname@example.org.