St. Pete man hopes to reunite Army medal with rightful owner, whose name is engraved on back

A man in St. Petersburg is on a mission to find a military hero or that person's family. He doesn't know the man's story or where exactly he's from. But he has a box containing a few things that belong to him, including an Army medal. 

That little box, worn and rusted, contains a story and a lot of history. "I get tears. I get tears," said Peter Holcomb.

On the front box are the words "United States of America." Inside, there are pins, cufflinks, and a few other items. But one item, in particular, caught Holcomb's attention.

"A military merit badge with the person's name on it," Holcomb said.

Hanging from a myrtle green and white striped ribbon, the bronze hexagon displays an American bald eagle on the front. On the back are the words "For Military Merit" along with the name Robert W. Phillips.

The man who found an Army Medal with the name Robert W. Phillips engraved on the back hopes to return it to its rightful owner.

By chance, it wound up in Holcomb's hands.

"A person owed me money and gave me that and I figured something was wrong," Holcomb said. "To me, it's heartbreaking because somebody served in our country and I'm the one holding his medals."

It turns out that medal is an Army Commendation Medal, also known as ARCOM. It was created shortly after World War II, sometimes issued for acts of heroism.

"It could be issued for meritorious service or achievement," said Howard Altman, Managing Editor for the Military Times. "We did a story in the Military Times last year about two West Point cadets who received it from the Army Secretary for helping to save the life of a suicidal cadet."

While the medal, itself, might not immediately lead to its rightful owner, Altman noted that other items in the box could provide clues.

"There's that 101st Airborne pin which narrows it down," Altman explained. "It's a storied division from a number of U.S. conflicts." 

Holcomb scoured the internet to find the man it belongs to or his family. He called the Army and the VA. But, without a date of birth, there's little they can do.

"They need to go back to either him or family," Holcomb said.

Growing up in a military family, he knows firsthand what these medals stand for.

"The utmost respect," Holcomb said. "They give everything for our country, and they deserve more than what they get when they come back."

Holcomb believes this box went from the wrong hands to his hands. And now, it's his personal mission to get it into the right hands.

"They're not going nowhere," Holcomb said. "Until they get back to that family, they're not going nowhere. That, to me, is worth more than gold."

If you recognize the name and the items in the box, or think you can help, you can contact the newsroom at FOX13tampanews@foxtv.com or 813-870-9630.