Lost WWII Medals Returned 15 Years After Stolen

Navy/Marine Corps Purple Heart Medal with gold 5/16 inch star and lapel button in presentation case. World War II. Wikepedia Commons image; click to view full citation.

Navy/Marine Corps Purple Heart Medal with gold 5/16 inch star and lapel button in presentation case. World War II. Wikepedia Commons image; click to view full citation.

Fifteen years after a Purple Heart and other lost WWII medals disappeared during a robbery, they have been returned to the family from whom they were stolen.

The medals belonged to James Dillion Adkison, a Lubbock, TX soldier killed at Pearl Harbor in 1943. A niece of James’ told a reporter that “Uncle JD’s” death left a huge hole in the family. Her mother grieved the loss of her brother for years, particularly on the Pearl Harbor bombing anniversary and Memorial Day.

The entire town and police department are credited in this news article for helping to reunite the medals with JD’s family.

heroWe love stories like these! They shine the spotlight on the often-invisible efforts of family historians, antique collectors, and others who try to return lost items to their families. You can click here to read about a WWII dog tag that was returned to a family after many years. That post also tells how you can help a blogger who dedicates efforts to returning lost dog tags to families. It’s inspiring!


What I Learned about Work from My Family

Labor Day work ethic celebrate ancestors

Back in 2013 a YouTube video went viral about the importance of hard word and making your own luck, values I am fortunate that my ancestors passed on to me. The speech came from an unlikely source: a young Hollywood actor. In the video, Ashton Kutcher stands in front of a bunch of teenagers at the Teen Choice Awards talking about the importance of hard work:

“When I was 13, I had my first job with my dad carrying shingles up to the roof, and then I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant, and then I got a job in a grocery store deli, and then I got a job at a factory sweeping Cheerio dust off the ground,” Kutcher said.

“And I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job, and I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work.”

As I said, this video went wildly viral (which is how I came across it) and it got me to thinking about my own work ethic. The credit for it sits squarely on my dad’s shoulders, and also my grandparents shoulders, and their grandparents shoulders.Dad and Grandpa

My dad was the first in his family to get a college degree. (image above: Dad and my proud Grandpa at Dad’s Graduation) He went to school and studied all day and worked in the local hospital morgue at night! 

I remember endless nights as a kid creeping up behind him as he sat in at the makeshift office in my parent’s master bedroom, puffing on a pipe and studying for his CPA. We didn’t have much in common to talk about, but it was what I saw in action that was communicating to me. Dad went on to become a successful businessman in a large company, and later created several vibrant businesses.

Getting the Message

I guess it was that non-verbal communication between father and daughter that inspired me as a kid to pull weeds, babysit and yes even shingle the side of the garage to make a few bucks. 

And I vividly remember taking a temporary job caring for a 100 old year woman for a few weeks one summer. She was testy at first as she felt generally ignored, but warmed up to her inquisitive caregiver until she was soon sharing stories of traveling as a little girl in a covered wagon. She’d found her audience and I was entranced.

At 15 I lied about my age so I could get a job at pizza place washing dishes. Within two days they promoted me to cook, a position a girl had never held in that restaurant.

Later I went on to my teenage dream job – sales clerk at the record store at the mall. (Sheer persistence helped me beat out all the other teens for that one!)

And then, on to a job at Radio Shack (this time the first female to be hired in the state to the best of my knowledge) as the TRS-80 computer hit the shelves.

I started my professional career working for free at a travel agency to get a little resume cred as I finished travel agent school, and was the first to land a job a week before graduation. I went on to working in corporate America where I received invaluable career development.

grandkids help2

Signing books with my grandsons.

An Entrepreneur at Heart

But like my dad, I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I’ve created a couple of businesses and positions for myself over the years, and find myself now with Genealogy Gems living my dream and drawing from all of my past experiences.

There have been many challenges along the way – no one ever said work was easy. In fact, my mom’s favorite saying that was drilled in to us as kids was “life isn’t fair – get over it!” She was absolutely right, and she removed the obstacle of fretting over fairness from my life, so I could just get on with working hard and creating my own dreams. I was one lucky kid!

Now whenever a challenge arises, my instinct is to say to myself: I can’t wait to find out what future opportunity this dilemma is training me for!” Almost without exception, I can look back over my past work experiences and see how they are helping me today. Some of the very worst have turned out to be blessings.

(Update: I talk more about this and my career in an interview I did on the Genealogy Professional Podcast Episode 29.)

The Good News About Your Family Tree

Even if the most recent generations that came before you let you down or hurt you, family history offers you centuries to pull new and positive values from.

Your ancestors were survivors and yep, that’s why you’re here! You may have parents or grandparents who went astray, but you have countless ancestors to find, and learn from.

Best of all, you get to pick which values you wish to embrace, and which will fall by the wayside.

Let us pass on what our ancestors taught us so our kids and grand kids can enjoy the opportunities, growth, reward and freedom that comes from good old hard work.

Lucky Opportunities

So what “lucky” opportunities have you had and created?

On this Labor Day I hope you’ll join me in the comments below and share what you learned about work from your previous generations.

Why not share this post with someone YOU know who works hard? Let them know how much you admire them.



How to Document Family History with Shotbox

Documenting family history isn’t just about finding genealogical records. Family history can be found all around our home and the home’s of our relatives. These items need to be documented too. But when you start inventorying what you have – scrapbooks, photo albums, heirlooms and inherited items – it may turn out to be a bigger job than you thought. You could just snap photos with your phone, but you might end up with annoying shadows and glare.

The Shotbox, a handy portable photography studio, solves these problems. I’m using it to document my family keepsakes and even digitize my photo albums. It makes the job much easier and gives me better results, faster.

Videos and show notes

It’s helping me accomplish a goal I’ve wanted to reach for a long time – quality documentation of all the family items that are meaningful to me and that I hope will be meaningful to future generations.

Save on the Shotbox

SHOTBOX SHOP  (thank you for supporting our free channel by using our affiliate link)
GG20 – $20 off the $249 Shotbox bundle
GG10 – $10 off the $199 Shotbox bundle
GG5 – $5 off the Shotbox base unit

Watch the Videos

Watch this special preview unboxing video now to get ready for tomorrow’s live premiere:

Next, in this video you’ll learn how to set up and use the Shotbox to photograph heirlooms, books, old photo albums and more and get stunning results:


Download the ad-free show notes(Premium Member log in required.
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Show Notes

(This article contains affiliate links for which we may be compensated. Thank you for supporting our free content.)

Shotbox: Multiple Uses

While this article and video focuses on using the Shotbox for family history, there are many other uses for it. You can also use it to create professional looking photos of items you want to sell online, document items for insurance purposes, and (one of my favorites uses) capture your kid’s and grandkid’s artwork.

Unboxing: What’s Included

I like to know what I’m going to get when I order something, so I’ve created an “unboxing video” for you. Here’s everything that comes in the bundle:

  • SHOTBOX Core Light Box and reversable floor panel
    SideShot Kit – smart device platform with an extra 12″ of LED lighting
  • Backdrop Kit – black, white, green, and blue backdrops
  • Black DELUXE Carry Bag – shock-resistant neoprene. Zipped pockets
  • Power cord extension cable
  • Bluetooth shutter remote
  • Glare shield set
  • Archival spatulas and fingertip covers

Setting up the Shotbox

To open the portable studio, grab one of the square holes on the top (the black panel) and pull up. The box is will pop open.

Next, take the small poles on either side of the opening and pull them down to secure in place. This will make the box rigid and sturdy.

Place the reversable floor panel on the bottom of the Shotbox.

Select a backdrop. You have four to choose from: white, black, blue and green. The blue and green will come in handy as “green screens” that will allow you to easily remove or change up the background of the photo when used in a video.

Carefully unroll the backdrop and hold it by the “Shotbox” tag on the end. With the smooth side facing up, hang the backdrop by placing the holes over the tabs at the top of the back of the box.  Gently use the plastic rod at the other end of the backdrop to move it back into place and secure the rod behind the front lip of the box.

Plug the power cord into the back of the box. Use the round dial in the upper right corner of the front of the box to turn on and adjust the lights.

Shotbox backdrops

Backdrop installed in the Shotbox.

Photographing Items

The Shotbox features several holes in the top of the box. These give you options for placing your phone, camera side down, so that you can photograph flat items such as books, paper and artwork through the hold. You can then reposition your item or your phone for the optimal shot.

You can zoom in on your phone screen to get just the right cropped image or edit the photo afterwards. I like to quickly edit after taking a series of photos. Usually there’s little to do but cropping, but sometimes the Enhance feature or other editing tools in your Photos app will help achieve the final results you want.

Shotobx book

Photographing an ancestor’s journal with the Shotbox

Bluetooth Shutter Remote

Use the Bluetooth shutter remote to speed up the photographing process. You’ll need to pair it with your smartphone. Do this by turning on the Bluetooth functionality on your phone. (On my iPhone I went to the Settings app, tapped Bluetooth, switched it to the on mode.) Press and hold the button on the remote until it flashes and then the device should appear in your list of Bluetooth compatible devices on your phone. Once paired, you can simply press the remote button to snap each photo.

Using the SideShot

When photographing three dimensional items you’ll need the SideShot. It’s a separate piece that allows your phone to photograph from a variety of angles from the front.

To install the SideShot, place the end of the long arm into one of the holes on the top. (I started with the center hole.) Make sure it snaps in place and is sturdy. Next, turn the level to release the tension which allows you to position it and the perfect angle for your shot, then tighten it back up. Turn your phone upside down and point the camera through the hold in the SideShot.

You’ll also find foldable side pieces that allow you to also use a tablet as your camera. It’s also a good idea to use the shutter remote so you won’t risk bumping the camera once in position.

Finally, plug the needle tip cord into the back of the box and the other end (the USB) into the SideShot. As you turn on the power to the Shotbox, the lights on the back of the SideShot will also come on.

shotbox sideshot

Using the Shotbox Sideshot to photograph family heirlooms

Reducing Glare

Glare can be a real problem when photographing items that are framed behind glass. The glare shields that come with the Shotbox dramatically reduce glare.

Each glare shield is fitted with four magnets that fit perfectly on the four screws on the inside of the top of the box on each side. Simple place each shield in position and they will hold in place.

Glare can be further reduced by experimenting with repositioning your camera and varying the amount of light with the on/off dial.

Save on the Shotbox

SHOTBOX SHOP  (thank you for supporting our free channel by using our affiliate link)
GG20 – $20 off the $249 Shotbox bundle
GG10 – $10 off the $189 Shotbox bundle
GG5 – $5 off the Shotbox base unit

Bargains on the Best Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Bargains that Support Genealogy Gems This page includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase we will receive a commission that helps make the free Genealogy Gems Podcast and our articles possible. Thank you for your support!    (As an Amazon Associate I...

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