World War II, eBay, and my Great Grandfather

Last week my dad forwarded me a story about a 96-year-old World War II veteran Clarence Smoyer who was recently awarded his Bronze Star almost 75 years after the battle that made him a hero. Out of pure curiosity, my Dad fired up his iPad and did a Google search of his grandfather — Sheldon “Paul” Purdy — also a World War II veteran. 

Grandpa Purdy was a graduate of the University of Oregon. He served in WWII as a major in the US Army Air Corps as a flight navigator. He received eight battle stars and five service medals completing over 1,398 hours in European and Pacific combat theaters in enemy fire.

Not sure of what he would find, my Dad’s search led him to an eBay listing of my great grandfather’s World War II era gear — his uniform, officer hats, and his Army Major pin.

We weren’t sure how these items ended up on eBay, but we had to have them. I immediately contacted the seller and quickly procured the items. On Monday afternoon, I received the items with his name stamped on the inside of his uniform.

It was certainly emotional to have these items in my hands and just to imagine the life he lived. The horror that he witnessed. The triumph of defeating a tyrant in Europe, and a war machine in the Pacific. It blows my mind that these items were in the hands of a stranger but are now back in the hands of our family. 

That’s the power of technology. The power of Google. The power of eBay. Bringing historical connections to the modern era — and back to our family.

My great grandfather passed away on May 5, 2014, at the age of 98. His legacy will always live on.

RIP, Grandpa Purdy.

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