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Casa Grande man reunited with father's military awards nearly 20 years after his death

Posted at 9:29 PM, Dec 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-13 00:10:07-05

CASA GRANDE, Ariz. — A Casa Grande man has been reunited with his father's military awards nearly 20 years after his death.

Blas Gaitan Jr. thought he knew all there was to know about his dad. They even shared the same name.

"He loved his music," Gaitan Jr. said. "And that's just how we all are. We all love our music. He played guitars for everything."

But this week, 17 years after his death, he learned about a completely different side of him.

The Pinal County Sheriff's Office announced Dec. 10 they were looking for the family of Blas Gaitan, a decorated Vietnam veteran who was killed in Eloy in 2002.

His emblems and awards that were left behind in an evidence warehouse were uncovered, and efforts to reach the family were unsuccessful.

Blackhorse Investigations helped track down Gaitan Jr. the next day. The same private investigation company helped find the family of a Purple Heart recipient when the medal was found at a Tucson Goodwill store in July.

Gaitan Jr. says he didn't know much about his father's time serving.

"He didn't talk about his military service," Gaitan Jr. said. "So he'd say, 'Yeah, I was in the military.' And that was about where that conversation stopped."

Gaitan Jr. says the past couple of days have been overwhelming as he learned new details about his father. He was reunited with his belongings exactly one week before his father's birthday.