A shadow box containing a World War II veteran’s Purple Heart and dog tags was stolen from his grandson’s machine shop in Bohemia last week, Suffolk County police said.
Detectives said the robbery took place last Thursday night between 9 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. According to police, the robber unlatched a locked window and broke into Concept Components, owned by James McGuigan, and stole the shadow box containing the priceless items that Francis McGuigan passed down to his grandson.
“They saw everything, they grabbed it…unfortunately they’re gone,” said McGuigan, who described his grandfather as “very proud but humble” Army Ranger whose first experience on the battlefield was D-Day, when 160,000 allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy to fight the Nazi’s. He died in 2002 at 79 years old.
McGuigan said when he arrived at his shop after the robbery he found the outside window “smashed,” and the shadow box containing his grandfather’s World War II memorabilia missing, and called the police. He also had a picture of his grandparents hanging on the wall.
“It’s disappointing more than anything,” McGuigan said, “and not to minimize anybody’s losses of personal property, but a car or a computer or a cell phone or anything like that can always be replaced…his dog tags are the most valuable thing to me. He put them on the day he was enlisted into the service and he wore them all the way through World War II.”
McGuigan, 47, of Sayville, believes the robbers don’t understand what they took from him, adding that the Purple Heart and dog tags are “useless” to them.
“I just want to find them on my doorstep one morning and just forget about what happened,” he said. “That piece of my grandfather is probably the most important thing that I can have from him.”
Francis was only one of six in a group of 60 men in his group who survived on June 6, 1944 on the beaches of Normandy, his grandson said.
Knowing that a piece of his family history was on the wall of the machine shop he owns made him proud and happy every time he saw them.
Now? “I miss it,” McGuigan said, “and it’s just a blank space on the wall and if I don’t ever replace it I’ll leave it as a blank space because that’s how I’ll have to remember it then. Because I don’t want to cover it up.”
Police are asking anyone with information regarding the robbery to contact the Fight Squad at 631-854-8552 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.
McGuigan said he would want the robber to know that dog tags and Purple Heart are “part of our family history. There isn’t much history in some families. We don’t have a lot of things left from my grandparents and this was one thing that had an enormous amount of value to us and personal pride.”