TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It's a family reunion years in the making.
Two years ago, deputies with the Pinal County Sheriff's Office investigated the death of Blas Gaitan, which was ruled a homicide, according to an email from PCSO. When the Gaitan died, he had a collection of patches and documents chronicling his military service.
However, the office was never able to get in touch with his next of kin, the email stated.
That is, until Wednesday.
Blackhorse Investigations LLC, a full service private investigations firm based in Tucson, learned about the news story Wednesday morning via KOLD.
As a way of giving back to the community and veterans, they assist with reuniting families with their loved one’s medals, dog tags and other military items. The company helped find the family of the Purple Heart that was accidentally donated to Goodwill in Tucson last July.
Blackhorse said that in this case, once they located a few phone numbers to potential family members, they started calling to get a better understanding of who the rightful heir would be. They first contacted Blas Gaitan’s niece by calling a phone number associated with his sister. They then discovered Blas had a son after speaking to her: Blas Gaitan Jr., his only son.
“I got a call this morning from my step dad and he’s like ‘hey there’s this guy who says he’s an investigator he has your dads belongings,’ and I’m like ‘it’s been 17 years what do you mean belongings?’” Gaitan Jr. said.
In PCSO’s possession were several possessions of his father including patches, documents and awards that had been searching for their proper home for years. Pieces of his father’s life, he had no idea about.
"I didn’t know he had went into combat he never told us that. I’ve never seen that picture, I’ve never seen those medals.” Gaitan Jr. said.
For Gaitan Jr., it’s hard to put into words what the discovery means. It’s something he’s is still grasping.
"I broke down in the truck coming this way,” he said
But what’s easy, is knowing where he’ll place it to make sure that name is given the proper honor and peace, knowing it’s finally home.
“I want him to know I love him like up in the sky.” Gaitan Jr. said, paying homage to their saying they always said to each other.
Gaitan Jr. will be able to pick up his father’s belongings Thursday morning.