KIA bracelet found in Jacksonville Beach returned to Marine's family
Veteran uses social media to find owner of priceless memento
JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – A military veteran walking on Jacksonville Beach finds a priceless memento lost in the sand. It was a memorial bracelet honoring a service member killed in action.
"I stepped on it, and when I picked it up, right away I knew what it was. And I knew that, gosh, somebody really missed this," Valeria Donaldson said.
She went home and searched online for the name inscribed on the KIA bracelet: Lance Cpl. ;Ralph Fabbri, Jr.
She discovered Fabbri, a Pennsylvania native, was in the U.S. Marine Corps -- a 1st Marine Division (Forward) combat cameraman when he was killed while on patrol in Afghanistan Sept. 28, 2010. He died one day shy of his 21st birthday.
"It’s definitely the ultimate sacrifice, I think, and it just touched my heart."
With the memorial bracelet on her wrist for safekeeping, Donaldson said she felt a connection to Fabbri.
"I am a photographer myself, so I felt that was kind of neat that he is a photographer," she said.
Donaldson knew a loved one was missing this precious tribute to Fabbri, so she posted a video on Facebook in hopes of finding its rightful owner. That video quickly went viral with thousands of shares.
"After pushing it out there, I finally get confirmation from a young man. In fact, he sent me his profile and I could see he was wearing it," Donaldson said.
That young man is Fabbri’s cousin, Cameron Latterner.
"He (Fabbri) meant a lot to me. I only have a sister and he was like the brother I never had. We were really close," said Latterner.
The 16-year-old, who lives in North Carolina, has worn the bracelet ever since Fabbri was killed in combat. He said he lost it about two months ago while in Jacksonville Beach on vacation. He took the bracelet off to go swimming and never found it again.
"I was pretty sad because I’ve had it since he died," said Latterner.
"He said that he was very torn over losing it and was trying to get another one. But, they only have so many that they gave out," Donaldson told us.
Donaldson mailed the KIA bracelet to Latterner, happy she was able to find this personal tribute that could have been lost forever.
"I did not think anyone was going to find it. Because I thought it was going to get swept away by the high tide. It’s a miracle that she found it because it was two months on the beach," said Latterner. "I just want to say thank you. I don’t know how she found it."
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