Every kid dreams of uncovering a treasure or exploring to solve mysteries. We all loved playing around and looking for clues, digging through dirt in our search of a pirate’s treasure. While not many kids end up actually finding something of value in mud, a young boy was lucky enough to find something very special right in his backyard!
When he was only ten years old, Mike Iacovelli was your average kid, playing around his house with friends, digging for treasures. What he didn’t know was that his playtime would turn into the adventure of a lifetime.
Mike Iacovelli grew up in Worcester, a town with medieval roots, which definitely hid some secret treasures waiting to be uncovered. But Mike had no idea that playing around would also end up with him actually finding something valuable…
He liked playing around in the back yard, and you could see how happy he was in his childhood photos. One day, he took his tools and started digging in a patch of ground. He learned how to do it from his mom, as they worked in their garden.
The kid really enjoyed being outside, helping out his parents, and digging in the little garden they had. But when he took the shovel and started digging a bigger hole, something sounded strange…
Mike dug quite the hole when he stumbled upon a little piece of metal. What could have been deep down under earth? He called his parents to check out the little round metal that looked a bit like a coin…
His parents came right away, and after cleaning the little coin, they realized that it wasn’t a coin after all. It was a medal, and they knew it because they’ve seen items like this before, in museums! Something was written on it… This is where things get exciting!
On one side of the coin, there was an inscription with “The Great War for Civilisation 1914-1919.” At the top of it, there was a ring. When taking it to an expert, Mike learned that his coin was a medal of honor given to a soldier. He then showed him the name of the soldier which was right on the medal!
Right on the edge of the medal, he saw the name of the soldier that owned it: A.G. George Hammond! Years passed, and Mike kept the badge, knowing that this was his special mission of finding the family of the soldier. Years passed, and Mike was now a grown man, but never forgot about his little “coin.”
“I recall the delight when I started to clean off the dirt and realized that this was not just another old coin for my collection,” said Mike in an interview. After growing up, he moved to Canada and has a family and kids. One day, his boys went through their father’s old coin collection and saw the medal!
Mike treasured the medal for years and always wanted to return it to the family of the soldier. His kids were even more anxious to finally make this dream come true, so they started to search on the internet to find some answers.
The man found a Facebook group called Worcestershire Memories and shared his story with the people. In just a few days, his store went viral! Mike then knew that his mission would be tough to complete, but he still had family in England. So, he called his mother…
Mike said that he even convinced his mother to go to the Worcester Museum and learn more about the badge, but they didn’t get the information they needed. The curator was intrigued by the find, but also said that the museum had 20 of them and they were all common. But then, they learned something essential!
Someone spotted Mike’s post and told him some facts: the soldier named A.G. George Hammond was a gunner for the 61st Division’s ammunition column. Unfortunately, he died on June 12, 1917, at only 24 years old. Mike then used Facebook to track someone in Hammond’s family…
Mike found a woman by the name Debbie Evans, who was actually the soldier’s great-great-granddaughter. The strangest thing was that at the same time, she was trying to learn more about her family tree and George!
Debbie said that she was “researching my family tree and specifically George because none of her relatives know much about him.” Now Mike’s research helped Debbie find a photo of her great-great-grandfather from the time when he joined the service!
Thanks to Mike, Debbie was able to get the medal, and she was extremely grateful for him keeping the item safe for so many years. Looking at Hammond’s photograph, Debbie was stunned to see how much her eldest son looked like George.
Debbie then located the grave where George was buried. It was in Northern France, in Arras. She said that nobody knew anything about the soldier, and added that they “we’re the first family members to go and see his grave.”
George’s family can now visit his grave and keep the medal as a memory, said Debbie, mentioning that before learning about the medal, they wanted to get a replica of it and didn’t even think that the original was already in good hands.
Mike got the perfect ending to this decades-old mystery, and together with his boys, they’re all happy to see it was finally solved!
It’s unbelievable to see that nearly after 100 years of being lost, the medal went back to the family of the man that earned it. And when you think that it all started with a little kid digging for treasures in the dirt!