History. Some people are fascinated by the discovery of their place in events that helped to shape and mold our society and culture, particularly if those events had significance in relation to their national history. To uncover a tangible object that was worn, carried or awarded to an ancestor or relative while they served their country  is an amazing moment for many.

The discovery of these military items (known by polished collectors as militaria) often times stirs the recipient of the object to embark on a research project to uncover where, when and how it was used by the veteran. Most of the time, depending on the object, the research projects are brief ending satisfactorily with a great deal of success. While a fair amount of these research endeavors only serve to spawn additional investigative pathways that can take years to learn the answers to questions (if answers can be found at all). This is what drives many of us who collect militaria.

For me, militaria collecting is about the veteran rather than the object. Specifically, the research is about veterans who are also my ancestors or relatives. As an amateur genealogist and a military historian, I landed into militaria collecting by way of inheriting militaria and seeking to document familial military heritage in order to hand this legacy down to my own children.

I spent a year writing about militaria collecting and my personal interests with CollectorsQuest.com (which has since been decommissioned) who was funded/sponsored by A&E Networks (A&E, History Channel, Military History, Lifetime, etc.). I was blessed with a paid writing gig that helped me expand my writing and research skills while exploring new directions of militaria collecting.

This site/blog marks a new direction for me. One that comes with reduced pressure (no deadlines, less editorial oversight) allowing me to focus on the aspects of military collecting that I find most interesting. In addition, I am afforded flexibility to ensure that I have my family priorities in proper perspective. Considering all of this, my goal is to publish a new article each week.

I hope you find the content informative, insightful and most importantly, enjoyable.

The Vet Collector

  1. Who did you contact at the Washington Navy Yard? I am trying to find relatives of crewmembers of the USS Grenadier and Omori POW Camp to share information that I have found. Many of these men were told not to talk about their POW experiences, therefore, many of the surviving family members do not know what they experienced. I had talked with Jeanna Johnson Smith about the Newspaper article and contacted the NH&HC about the Flag. I didn’t know you were involved until I read this. I stay in contact with the Museum to monitor the progress with the Flag. It is being preserved and mounted in a frame for possible display in 2014. Hopefully, relatives of the POWs and Grenadier crew will make contact and then we can share information about their war experiences.

  2. I’m so dumb… Didn’t cross my mind you blogged! Or I had just forgotten. That’s been known to happen. But your words ring true on this topic…of stories taken to the grave never to be known… So sad..

  3. Hello I know it is 2015 2 yrs after this blog – but I am trying to come up with a radarman 2nd class rating badge (1960s era) My brothers 75th birthday is fast approaching on 13 November. He was an RD2 in the 1960s on the USS OHare. any help would be appreciated thanks!

  4. i am trying to find out what the badge on my fathers suit stands for
    hard to describe need to send a picture

  5. Ah-ha, here you are. Yes, your profile and WP still have you at 67rallie. Glad to meet you!

  6. Timothy J Saunders

    I just discovered your site. Thank you for the article about Capt Carl W. Rinehart USN.Carl and his brother Franklin Clark Rinehart were my fathers first cousins. I have been searching for information about both and thanks to you I have found Carl’s story. Clark was lost at the battle of the coral sea. He Flew F-4 wildcat. Lost on May 8,1942. Could you possibly have any pictures of Clark Rinehart as you showed this article about Carl. I would appreciate any information you might have. Or how I could research to find out more about the family. Thank you so much. Their Mother was my Grandmothers sister Dolly.

    • Greetings,

      This is not a group of artifacts that I own. I too was fascinated by Captain Rinehart’s story and seeing the incredible images (on another site), documents and the details on another site led me to share it, here. As a collector and novice historian, these groups are so meaningful when the history can be presented with the items. This group, at the time of authoring the story, belonged to a collector who shared it online and I asked him for permission to use his images.

      I hope you find what you are seeking.

  7. Michael I Rogers

    I have a hand sewn First Marine Raider Patch worn by my uncle who served under Edson in C Company, the Raider Museum informed me that because he was part of the original group of Raiders ever formed that only that group wore hand sewn patches and all subsequent patches were machine sewn in Australia. My uncle wore this patch when he was deployed and it was present at Munda Talagi, Bloody Ridge and more. I want ot insure it and am seeking a possible value if you can help me.

  8. I know of someone who has my relative’s purple heart. We do not know how he got it, but we believe it should be back in the family. Can you help me with this?

    • Susie,

      Before I can offer any sort of assistance, there are a few considerations that you need before embarking on any retrieval efforts. How did this non-family member come to posses the medal? You would be surprised at how military decorations end up in the hands of a person other than the recipient. Often, the veterans or their survivors divest the medals and decorations due to the painful circumstances that the medals were the result of – permanent wounds, lost love one, lost buddy to name a few. It is an easy, but very rushed conclusion that the medals landed into the hands of the non-family member due to some nefarious activities (theft, grooming of an elderly family member, etc.). However, such occasions are rare. We have seen family members themselves, steal the medals and sell them on the open market.

      The most common way that medals land into collectors’ hands is from the families either through estate sales or from disposal. I am the recipient of several medal groups that were given to me by the estate heirs.

      Your best course of action is to reach out to the person who is in possession of the medals. If that person is a collector, understand that they are going to be reticent to release them. In our groups, we have seen countless instances where collectors give (after expending considerable expense to obtain the decorations) to the family member the medals only to see them listed at auction. The family that sold them initially for profit, received them back for free and sold them again for even greater profit. This behavior has made the prospect of having medals or decorations returned to the family nearly impossible.

      If there is a theft that resulted in the medals being removed from the veteran or family, your best bet is to file a police report and provide the facts surrounding the theft (break-in, coercion, etc.) and have it investigated with proof of the findings of the investigation being provided to the current holder of the medal.

      I hope this gives you an idea of what you might be facing. Before you do anything, consider having a polite conversation with the current owner of the medal and go from there.

      Kind regards,


  1. Pingback: A Whale of a Tooth: 19th Century Naval Scrimshaw | The Veteran's Collection

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