Mark DesErmia said he was ecstatic to find a Vietnam veteran’s Purple Heart military service ring, and the only way to top that feeling is to reunite the ring with it’s long lost owner.
DesErmia has made a name for himself in the Venice area as a treasure hunter.
He's found wedding rings, a Stanley Cup Championship ring, and more than a hundred class rings, Rolex watches, and other buried treasures. On most days, he can be found wading through chest deep water, metal detector in hand, ear phones listening into to each ping of metal buried deep in sand and forgotten by time.
But, on one Saturday earlier this month, DesErmia’s metal detector went off and he pulled up something out 5 feet of water he’s never found before.
“It was amazing. It had barnacles growing on it, it had been down so long,” DesErmia said. “I thought it was a fake plated ring, which I find quite a few of along with the real stuff as well.”
But, DesErmia didn't find a fake ring, he found the real deal.
“On one side it shows the Purple Heart, but the other side, it depicts the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and it says ‘you are not forgotten’’ how does that not move you,” DesErmia said.
The dates on the inside are 1966 and 1967 with the man’s initials, JVA. DesErmia said he can’t help but wonder what the soldier went through to earn a Purple Heart in battle.
DesErmia’s Unlce served in Vietnam making his find even more special for him and the sacrifices he knows the veteran made.
“I was just thinking of what the man went through what his battle wounds probably were and just really a very emotional thing for me,” DesErmia said.
Now the question DesErmia is desperately trying to answer. Can he find the owner before Memorial Day.
“Wouldn’t that be perfect,” DesErmia said. “We were wondering if he is still living. If not, we are hoping desperately to get it back to his family,” DesErmia said.