Master Sergeant James Sanders served in the United States Army for 20 years, but rarely talked about his military service with his son Jai. Instead, he would occasionally share amusing anecdotes, such as waking up in a tent in Guam with giant lizards crawling around. During his military career, James served in World War II, primarily as a quartermaster in both the European and Pacific theaters, and in the Korean War. He received seven medals, but four of them were missing.
In a special ceremony held by the State’s Department of Treasury, Jai was reunited with his father’s missing military medals.
James retired in 1962 as a Master Sergeant and ROTC instructor for the Department of Military Science and Tactics at Virginia State University. He laterworked as a clerk for the U.S. Postal Service in Nashville, where he passed away in 1996. For over 25 years, Jai had kept the medals in a safe deposit box, but they ended up in the hands of the treasury’s office after the bank closed.
Related: Over $1 billion in Tennessee Unclaimed Property
State Treasurer David Lillard explained that they had been searching for the veteran’s family or heirs for eight years before finally finding Jai. Though Master Sgt. James Sanders is no longer here, his son sees the medals as a reminder of everything his father endured and sacrificed. “Coming from North Nashville during the depression and segregation, I can’t see those medals without knowing that he took the call to action and went with it and made a career out of it,” said Jai.
This story highlights the importance of honoring our veterans and their families, as well as the efforts made by government organizations to reunite families with their loved ones’ belongings. It also serves as a reminder of the billions of dollars in unclaimed property still waiting to be claimed.
“We must never forget those who have served to protect our rights and freedoms in America. I was honored to meet Jai Sanders who shared stories of his father, MSG James Sanders, says Rep. Jay Reedy (R-Erin). Military medals are like pictures, they are “worth a thousand words” and continue to tell stories for years to come. The examples shared by military leaders of days gone by, inspire and give hope to our next generation to respect and protect our rights and freedoms for the future.”
“Those who have served under arms have endured much for their country and the least we can do is remember and honor their and their families’ sacrifices,”
said Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge)
Individuals should check www.ClaimItTN.gov at least once per year.