A thief stole more than a backpack Tuesday night; he stole one soldier's war medals, just one hour after she returned from deployment.
Army Reserves Specialist Jackie Gatti had only been back from Afghanistan for an hour when a thief stole her camouflage military backpack — inside were her irreplaceable personal mementos, according to Boston Fox affiliate WFXT-TV.
"Kind of a slap in the face after all I've just been through this past year for him or her, whoever, just decided to help himself to my belongings," Gatti said.
Gatti's family had just picked her up from a return-home ceremony at Westover Air Force Base. The 23-year-old soldier was deployed for eight months supporting Afghan detention facility operations where the guard captured members of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. When the Gatti family decided to stop for dinner at a 99 Restaurant before making the two-hour trip home to South Weymouth, Mass., that's when the culprit struck:
"I kinda stared at the back of the truck for a minute and I said you have to be kidding me, it's gone. And that's really all I could get out of my mouth," she said. Gatti says she fell to her knees sobbing because all of the proof of all the hard work she had put in and bravery she'd displayed for the past eight months was in her backpack.
"A lot of my military documentation was in there. All my awards from my deployment were in there. I had company coins that my commander and first sergeant had given me as a job well done," she said.
If Gatti had deployment orders and other military documents required for transportation and entry back into the United States in her backpack, she's also likely susceptible to fraud since the thief now has their hands on her personal information, like her Social Security number.
Gatti and her mom, Carolyn, have called pawn shops around Chicopee and filed a police report. They hope someone reading this might know where to find the backpack. They say more than just getting the bag back, they want some of their faith restored in others by having that backpack returned.
"That's something that we pride ourselves on in the military is our integrity, so I hope this person can find theirs," Gatti said.
"My daughter just went over there for you, so you can live in the country you live in," Gatti's mom said.
Gatti said she's willing to pay $1,000 to whoever took her bag, which is more than they'd get for the backpack and its contents anywhere else. In addition to her ribbons and certificates, she also had a fleece military jacket and some gifts from her fellow soldiers inside the bag.
Gatti is a member of the 344th Military Police Company, from Middletown, Mass. According to WFXT, anyone with information about the incident should contact the local police office. See their full report here: