We have heard the old adage, “We take care of our own.” While many times this may seem like lip-service or an empty promise, members of the Tomb Guard family take it to heart.
A few months back I followed a story as it developed on Facebook concerning eBay, a Tomb Guard Identification Badge (TGIB), and four former Tomb Guards. Like many stories that involve the tenacity and determination of Tomb Guards, this story has a happy ending.
As it turns out, there was a TGIB listed from a seller on eBay. Anyone who has searched the multitude of items listed on that site will undoubtedly come across a plethora of TGIBs listed for sale. Somehow this particular badge stood out from the others. This one came with a name. Ryan Ball, himself a collector of Tomb of the Unknown Soldier memorabilia, came across the listing. According to his Facebook post Ryan let the members know that there was a badge with a name on eBay for sale.
That seemed to set the wheels in motion. Lonny LeGrand, Jr., himself an avid collecter of all things Tomb-related saw it as an opportunity to get this badge back into the hands of its rightful owner. Once he found the listing on eBay, Lonny immediately contacted the seller to find out more information, introduce himself, and see what kind of deal could be struck.
As it turns out, the seller of this badge comes from a family with a long lineage of military service. Although he did not serve, he has the highest esteem and respect for those who serve or had served in the military. Michael O’Reagan is the owner of Militarybizniz on eBay and deals in militaria. While he makes every effort to contact those whose names may be engraved on various medals, not all are successful. Through his conversation with Michael, Lonny said that he “has always made an attempt to reach out to the family or owner of a medal or such that he has found, [and] he believes from the bottom of his heart that something as special as this or other military awards truly belong in the hands of the owner or family.” When Michael received this TGIB, he saw the name on the back as L.C. Lerman. All attempts to find the owner had failed.
While L.C. Lerman may not have existed, enter Loren Ackerman — a former Tomb Guard and the proud recipient of Badge #343 who served in the late 80’s. For some reason or another Loren had lost possession of his badge. How it ended up on eBay still remains a mystery, but Lonny knew he had to get it back. “I immediately offered to give up one of my badges in return to put on eBay for him to sell.” Michael simply would not hear of it. He removed the badge from his auction and arranged to have the badge sent to Loren’s ex-wife Ellen. Another former Tomb Guard, Brian Compton, played an integral role in getting in contact with Ellen, who was elated that she was able to return the badge to Loren.
When I saw the picture posted on Facebook of Loren holding his badge, I was overcome with emotion. What a testament to our “Band of Brothers” that returning Loren’s badge was priority. Lonny had never met Loren, or even knew who he was. He only knew that he was a fellow Tomb Guard and he had to make sure the badge was safely back with Loren…where it belonged. “A Tomb Guard should never be separated from his badge,” Lonny said, “especially one that he wore on the mat.”
Amen to that…
By Kevin Welker