Vietnam veteran's lighter returned nearly 50 years later

- It's a story that shows the power of social media. After nearly 50 years, an item lost during the Vietnam War is returned to a family right here in the Carolinas.

"It just brings a lot back," said Ginger Crump.

Ginger is the daughter of Corporal George Crump-- who passed away in 2009.He was a Fort Mill police officer who selflessly served his country in the Vietnam War.  

He lost his left eye on duty while working for the Fort Mill Police Department, when he was hit in the face with a beer bottle.

"He did two tours of duty," she said.  "And he didn't talk about it."

About two weeks ago, a woman on Facebook with the same last name contacted Ginger.

"She was asking if my dad was George Crump and was he in the military," she said.  "I said yes-- that was my father.  She said a man from Iowa had his lighter and was trying to find him to return it to him 47 years later."

The lighter, marked with his name, was the one he lost nearly 50 years ago while recovering from injuries at a hospital in Vietnam.

Through social media, it was tracked back to Crump's family.  His name was inscribed on the lighter.

"A man named John Schnitker got our address and we exchanged a lot of memories," said Crump.  "He cried and sent us the lighter and letter."

Schnitker worked at the hospital in Vietnam, and helped take care of Corporal Crump following his injuries.  He remembered Crump asking where his lighter was back then-- and later found it and held onto it for him.  

He put it in a box of memorabilia, forgetting about it for about 45 years.  Two years ago, he posted about it-- trying to track Corporal Crump down on Facebook.  Just a few weeks ago, he re-shared the post-- making it public.

"We were all in tears," said Crump.  "Especially my mom. She didn't know the back was inscribed to say 'Sonny loves Ann.'"  

"Sonny" was Corporal Crump's nickname in the war.  Ann is Ginger’s mother.

"He carried this-- and by my mom," Crump said.  "This is just a little piece of his history."

After all this time, it's just what the Crump family needed.

"There isn't much we have left of him-- other than the memories and a few pictures," Crump said.  "So to have a little more-- it's nice.”  

A piece small enough to fit in a pocket-- but that means the world to the women that meant the most to him. 

“Thank you for bringing back a little piece of my father," Crump said. The original post by Schnitker has more than 9,100 shares on Facebook.

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