Navy Lieutenant Gets Wallet Back 53 Years After Losing It in Antarctica

Lt. Paul Grisham of San Diego lost his wallet in 1968 while serving in Antarctica; a New Hampshire family has helped get it back to him after it was found

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A Navy veteran in San Diego, who lost his wallet 53 years ago while serving in Antarctica, got his wallet back, thanks to a New Hampshire family.

"This is it, it's a little faded," said Paul Grisham's wife, Carole Salazar.

It's been more than five decades years since the beat-up, brown leather wallet has been slipped into someone's pocket.

"1968," Salazar said.

"That's been a long time, kid," laughed Grisham.

But finally, after more than a half a century, it's back in the right hands.

"It was like a bolt out of the blue," Grisham said. "I'm just dumbfounded."

In the 1960s, Operation Deep Freeze sent Grisham, a Navy lieutenant, to Antarctica.

"The temperatures are so cold, it really defies explanation," he said.

He spent 13 months there forecasting the weather for incoming ships and aircraft.

Recently, during some demolition at Grisham's old base, a man found two wallets and sent them to some friends in New Hampshire.

NBC10 Boston couldn't reach those Granite Staters for comment, but we know they enlisted the help of veteran Bruce McKee in Indiana.

"I just decided if I can help someone find their stuff, I'm going to do it," McKee said over Zoom.

He founded Indiana Spirit of '45, an organization dedicated to reuniting veterans with their lost items.

In this case, he spent days scouring the internet and making phone calls.

"It took a lot of different searching, about 45 different sites," McKee said.

Finally, he got a call back from Grisham himself.

"First thing I replied back was, 'Mr. Grisham did you lose a wallet in an Antarctica?' And he burst out laughing and he said, 'I had forgot about that,'" McKee recalled.

Inside, Grisham found his Navy identification card, an atomic warfare reference sheet, a scribbled Kahlua recipe, and even a beer ration card.

"Twenty-five beers were allowed," Grisham explained. "I drank four because I didn't care for beer. I have a pension for martinis."

The was no money in the wallet, but this 91-year-old veteran says the memories it holds are priceless.

"Well, it's kind of fun, really," he said. "I'm enjoying it."

Grisham said he's been contacted by reporters all over the world.

He's also received calls from two men he served with in Antarctica and hasn't spoken to since.

Grisham called those long overdue conversations the "icing on the cake."

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