My name is Kimberly Gorton. Granddaughter of James R. Perry Jr. My grandpa was a WWII bomber pilot in Europe. He flew over 15 missions and was an amazing pilot. In 1994, when I was only 7, he passed away of cancer. Shortly after his passing my grandma recieved a call from a man wanting to purchase any of my grandpa's old WWII things. My grandma was at the beginning stages of Alzheimer's and allowed him to come over. When he saw my grandpa's WWII bomber jacket he convinced her it belonged in a museum and he would make sure it got there to recieve the honor it deserves while on display. Believing him, my grandma gave him the jacket. After finding out the jacket was gone, my mom and dad knew right away my grandma was the victim of a scam. The man was most likely a colletor and sold the jacket for a profit.
For years my mom tried to locate the jacket. It was difficult; in the 90's the internet wasn't what it is today. After she felt she's exhausted all of her resources she realized it was probably impossible to ever find the jacket.
I learned about the jacket about four years ago. I'm not an internet expert, but I know my way around it. I decided to start my own search for it. My parents were supportive but they knew I was probably searching for something that wasn't there. I looked on the internet, searching craigslist and ebay. I never found it. Every few months for those four years, I searched again, with no luck.
About three weeks ago I decided to start my search again. I logged onto google and in the search bar typed in "WWII bomber jacket perry". On the 7th page I found an ad with a bomber jacket for sale. In the ad it said "on the leather name is the name J.R. Perry Jr". I nearly fainted. I could feel the color from my face leave and I started shaking. I called my dad and told him what I found. I described a patch on the front breast pocket. A black ball with wings flying through the air. He told me that's the "Flying 8 Ball" and that my grandpa had that patch on his jacket. He was a little reluctant because he knew the chances of finding the jacket were slim to none. He asked me to email him a copy of the link and he would look at it. When he opened the link he said, "Oh My God" and I could hear my mom gasp behind him. I knew I had found the jacket my mom spent so many years trying to find.
Last week my mom recieved a FedEx package containing one of the last pieces of her dad. A piece that is so important to our family history. It was sent from a collector in Bristol, UK. The collector that listed the ad had the jacket for about 18 months and had no idea the story behind it. He bought it from another collector in New York. There's no telling how many times it's been sold or traded in the last 18 years. All of that is irrelevant. Just knowing that my mom has a piece of her dad back is enough for me.
It's very important to make people aware of this scam. After some research we learned there's been other victims. Collectors will look in obituaries for war veterans and contact the surviving families asking for war artifacts. After convincing the family they'll do something honorable with them, they end up actually selling them to other collectors and making a profit. I can't imagine how many families have had a piece of their history ripped away fom them. But at least this story has a happy ending :)