Lost WWII Bomber Jacket Returned to Family in Arkansas After 60 Years

“All I could think to say was, ‘Welcome home, Daddy. You’re safe.’”

WWII Lost Jacket
Photo: Courtesy of Teri Sargent

Pat Nesbitt of Molalla, Oregon, has been wearing the same military-style bomber jacket for the last 60 years. It isn't a family heirloom—or at least one from his family—but it's meant just as much, if not more, to him. His uncle found the brown leather jacket at a bar in Tacoma, Washington, in the 1950s. After no one came back to claim it, he gave it to his 5-year-old nephew, Pat, who was battling polio at the time and had a passion for military memorabilia.

Pat has always known the name of jacket's owner. The name Miles F. Blum was stenciled on the inside of the jacket, but until recently he didn't know much about the man behind one of his most prized possessions.

Starting from around the time he was 10, Nesbitt said the jacket has been a staple in his wardrobe. He's worn it so much, he's had to replace the zipper and the cuffs. But more than a favorite piece of clothing, it has been a source of strength and encouragement.

"When my uncle gave me the jacket, from 10 years old to 18, every time I'd go on an adventure of some sort, I'd put on my official jacket because it gave me superpowers," he told KATU News. "If he could do 40 missions in that jacket, I could sled down the cliff, and I did. Most people could come back after 25, but he didn't. This guy was a superhero, and this is a jacket a superhero would wear."

Recently, Nesbitt, now 76, was looking at the jacket and a thought occurred to him. He wondered what would happen to the jacket when he passed. He couldn't bear the thought of it hanging abandoned in a secondhand store, so he decided it was finally time to find its owner. He enlisted the help of his friend to search for the family of Miles F. Blum. His friend found an obituary for Miles F. Blum Jr., then found his his sister via Ancestry.com.

Across the country, in Bella Vista, Arkansas, Teri Sargent was waiting. Sargent was only 3 when her father Miles F. Blum fought in Korea. She was only 14 when he died in a car accident. She knew he was stationed at McChord Air Force Base right outside of Tacoma, Washington, when he was called to Korea, but she had no recollection of a special bomber jacket.

So, when Nesbitt's friend reached out to her inquiring about the family of Miles F. Blum, she was understandably cautious. "I thought well this is a scam," she told Southern Living.

But after she received a photo of the jacket and matched the ID number on the inside of the jacket to the one on an ID badge she found stored away with her father's medals, uniforms, and dog tags, she knew it was no scam. "It was daddy's jacket," she said. "It was so unexpected and so out of the blue. Just the thought that a complete stranger would reach out to someone to ensure that his jacket went to somebody that would take care of it and want it—and boy he found the right person—I feel so lucky."

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Teri, who says she was very much a daddy's girl growing up, said she was at a loss for words once the jacket was finally returned to her.

"I took it out of the box, and all I could think to say was, 'Welcome home, Daddy. You're safe.' And that's how I feel about it," she said. "I feel like Pat needed the superhero jacket more than I did with what he was going through. And I think Daddy was with him. He said every time he took a trip, Miles was with him. Every time he sledded down a hill, Miles went with him, because he knew he couldn't hurt himself as long as he had the jacket on. I guess the guardian angel of the jacket needed to be with Pat, and now it needs to be back with me, and it is."

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