Randy is a Marine infantryman combat veteran, having served two tours in Iraq, in 2003 and 2004. His job was anti-armor operations and explosives. On September 6, 2004 he received a traumatic brain injury due to a road side bomb or IED (Improvised Explosive Device). He had a piece of shrapnel from a 155 millimeter mortar shell penetrate his face directly under his right eye. He had two brain surgeries and a facial reconstructive surgery. He now has three plates, titanium mesh, a bracket for a cheek bone and over twenty screws in his skull.
His initial brain surgery was done in Lundstuhl, Germany. The neurologist gave him the piece of shrapnel that entered his skull. Once he got home to Louisiana, a local jeweler mounted the shrapnel on a necklace. The shrapnel is held by an eagle’s claw, the piece then white gold plated.
Randy began working for a professional fireworks company near his home in Covington, LA. Since he had experience with explosives, the transition to fireworks was easy. He also attends school at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette working on a degree in Computer Science. On July 3, 2014 while working at the company’s remote storage facility, he removed the necklace and put it on a pack of papers, then placed the stack in his truck. A co-worker grabbed the stack of papers with the necklace. Later they discovered the necklace was missing.
Randy had worn that necklace for a decade. He expressed the emotions he felt. “I felt like a piece of me died. As you can imagine, this shrapnel meant a lot to me even though it is hard to explain being connected to something that almost ended my life.” He and others hunted the area extensively. Even though friends advised him to “let it go”, he could not. He continued to look for ways to locate the necklace.
We began communicating with Randy in April of this year. We finally were able to meet him on site July 16, just a few days after the one year anniversary of the loss. The site was limestone and grass with several forty-foot long steel containers, separated from each other by two to four feet. Staking out the area of highest probability, Sid started a search within the boundaries. Carrie, with her detector set on “Zero Discrimination”, decided to search outside the lines. She detected a strong iron signal within 2 minutes of her starting the search. Looking down, Carrie saw a tiny chain extending from a patch of grass. The rest of the necklace was hidden in the grass. Needless to say, we were all excited. A few pictures and we were on our way home.
Carrie and I are both proud of the service this brave young man has given to his country and saddened by the injuries he has suffered. We are happy that we were able to help him reclaim a piece of his history.