Lost military medals found in Lawton and returned to family - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Lost military medals found in Lawton and returned to family

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -A long, lost box full of military medals is finally making its back to one soldier's family. This is after a Lawton woman found them in quite the unexpected place.

They were found in a box of books donated to the Library earlier this month. Patty Neuwirth, Treasurer of Lawton Friends of the Public Library and other staff members came across this American Defense Service Medal. It was awarded to Colonel Charles Rolland Gildart for his service prior to the start of World War II. Once the word got out that this one medal had been found, another Lawtonian came forward, saying she bought this entire box of medals for one dollar each at a local garage sale about 15 years ago. Some of those medals include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Commendation Ribbon.
So, Neuwirth got to work and started digging for any of the man's family members. That's when she came across his grandson, Charles R. Gildart the third in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Gildart says he was completely speechless when he heard he was getting the medals back. The last time he had seen them was in 1999 in his dad's office while they lived in Texas right before they moved to Lawton. Now, he's so happy he'll have them back in his hands to pass down to his family.

Charles Rolland Gildart... the name on a card with an American Defense Service Medal, is what Patty Neuwirth google searched hoping to find family or friends of this veteran.

"This gentleman was so highly decorated, he came right up in a search," said Neuwirth. "Took me to the Westpoint website and I got to see his bio, where all he had gone and oh my goodness. What a service he had and that evidently, he had given this to his son, who was Charles Gildart Jr."

And that led to the findings of his grandson, Charles Gildart the third who lives in North Carolina. Neuwirth picked up the phone dialed the number she found and a man answered.

"I read him the card and he goes, well that's my grandpa," said Neuwirth. "And he goes, we lost those medals. The family has just been devastated that they hadn't had the medals. So, he was just ecstatic. "

Both Gildart Senior and Junior had been assigned to Fort Sill during their careers and Lt. Colonel Gildart Jr.'s wife, Blanche is a Billingslea, a Lawton family.

Gildart Jr. passed away in 2006 at the Lawton Veterans Center and Blanche has since, moved many times and they believe the medals got lost somewhere in between the moves. Now, she's in a nursing home in Oklahoma City.

Living in a military town, Neuwirth understands how precious these medals are to people. It made her emotional because her father also served in the military and she would want them back if his got lost.

"I know how special his medals are to us as a family and we have them in a shadow box at my house," said Neuwirth. "Looking at the service this gentleman had done for this country, I just was, history and all that, I just had to try and find it. It just brings me to tears thinking about getting back something like this. What it would mean to me as a family."

She's glad these honorable medals will be passed from generation to generation in the family and she wishes she could thank the entire Gildart family in person.

"We thank him for his service and that all of this that he did for his country didn't go unnoticed or unrecognized and we love all of our veterans," said Neuwirth.

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