FREMONT, Nebraska – Operation Iraqi Freedom, September 22, 2005. It’s a day U.S. Army veteran Nathanial Ingebritson will never forget.
It’s the day he very nearly had his head blown off by a roadside bomb in Iraq.
”I remember we were actually heading back towards our home base in Iraq. Just the three of us in a Humvee at the head of a convoy. I was actually taking position in the gun turret“, Ingebritson said. “As I’m sitting down, an I.E.D (improvised explosive device) goes off. It’s about the closes to death I’ve ever been.”
For 16 years, Ingebritson dedicated his life to fighting for our country.
He risked that life serving in places like Bosnia, Germany, and in Iraq.
Ingebritson was nearly killed by that roadside bomb, which showered both he and his Humvee with jagged pieces of shrapnel, shredded his helmet, cut deep into his face, his arm, and his hand, and left him covered blood. He was awarded with the prestigious Purple Heart award for his sacrifice.
”Well, I went over there and I left a piece of me over there and I came home with a Purple Heart. It means a lot, a whole lot”, Ingebritson said.
Ingebritson said he’s proud of his service but never boasts about being a vet.
That award meant everything to him, but suddenly ten years ago, Ingebritson moved from Texas to Nebraska. During the move, that precious symbol of bravery went missing, along with many other items from his military career.
All of it was unexplainedly lost in storage, leaving Ingebritson dumbfounded and emotionally crushed.
”It really means everything. He didn’t think he would see it again so, it really was like a piece of him was missing”, said Ingebritson’s girlfriend, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Gina McManus.
And then, out of nowhere, several months ago, another veteran, Travis Kiro of Seabrook discovered a whole box containing Ingebritson’s military memorabilia at a storage unit auction in Houston.
”My very first thought was wow! I can’t believe I just found a Purple Heart“, Kiro said. “As a disabled vet myself, I know how much something like this would mean to any soldier who has served this country.”
That’s when Kiro decided to call the Bill Spencer and the Spencer Solves It team for help in finding the rightful owner of these cherished belongings.
”My mission now is to work hand in hand with you (Spencer), and let’s make sure we get this Purple Heart award back to where it belongs”, Kiro said.
It took some research and some digging, but Spencer was able to locate Ingebritson and reach out to him nearly a thousand miles away at the Disabled American Veteran’s Hall in Fremont, Nebraska.
After flying to Omaha with photographer Jon Hill, the team was able to hand-deliver those cherished, missing pieces of Ingebritson’s life back to him.
“This is something you’ve waited a long, long time to see Nate,” Spencer said. “This is your Purple Heart. This is for you, sir.”
But Ingebritson couldn’t say a word.
His eyes were frozen on the award, his hand was trembling as he wiped his eyes and inhaled a deep, painful sigh.
Ingebritson told Spencer he couldn’t find the words to say anything, and that he was too overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude.
And so, Spencer gently pin the beautiful award, lost for so long, onto Ingebritson’s shirt and finally shared his gratitude.
“Nathanial, for your sacrifice and your service. For everything you have done for all of us, God bless you, man.”