Riverhead ceremony reunites family of late veteran with his Purple Heart medal
A ceremony was held in Riverhead Sunday that involved a cross-country search for the owner of a lost Purple Heart medal.
It was an overwhelming moment for Lynn Bryson. The Seattle woman traveled 3,000 miles to go back 77 years in time to retrieve something her dad was awarded in 1945.
The story began at -- of all places -- a yard sale.
Lisa Dabrowski saw a Purple Heart Medal on a table at that yard sale. Inside was the name of R.S. Hollaman.
Members of the Mattituck American Legion brought the medal to a Jamesport Art and Framing, where Kristen Asher framed it and tried to find the owner.
"It took a lot of Googling, ancestry searches, phone calls to Canada and eventually I did find Lynn," Asher said.
Lynn Bryson is the daughter Robert Stewart Hollaman, who died in 2010.
"Dad never talked about the war. I never knew that he had gotten the medal," Bryson said.
Among those at the ceremony was 99-year-old Donald Bayliss. He and Hollaman were inducted in the Army on the same day, their serial numbers were four digits apart.
"Robert Hollaman was wounded on the island on Mandanow. And I says, 'Doggone it, I was there then!'" Bayliss said.
No one is quite sure how this medal ended up at a yard sale in Southold. Hollaman gave the medal to his mother. After she died, it went to one of her daughters. After she died, no one knows what happened to it.
The Purple Heart is now safely in the hands of Hollaman's daughter.
"He would be overwhelmed. He was not the guy to say, 'Look at me,'" Bryson said. "I feel my father's presence. Thank you honoring my father."
Holloman was wounded by mortar fire in the Philippines.
His shrapnel wounds led to three operations and impacted him the rest of his life.