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Family accidentally donates grandfather's Marine medals, uniforms

Actively searching with the Goodwill to find them
Posted at 11:42 PM, Dec 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-06 12:38:37-05

They lost their beloved patriarch. Now, a San Diego family has lost his war medals and Marine uniforms.

“A lot of people would call him Sgt. Major," said Illeana Engel. “I called him grandpa.”

Engel's grandpa served in the Korean War, Vietnam War and World War II. Sergeant Major Jesse Pacheco earned more than a dozen medals during his distinguished career as a Marine, including a Purple Heart. He went on to become a drill sergeant at MCRD.

Pacheco was no doubt a force to be reckoned with. Engel’s grandpa won lots of battles in his life. Except for one to cancer last April.

“Our entire family was entirely heartbroken when we lost him,” Engel said.

In late October the family helped their grandmother move and donated some belongings to the Goodwill in Oceanside. One week later, they realized that one of the boxes they had dropped off -  had their grandpa's Marine uniforms and all of his medals.

“It was a such a huge mistake to lose an American hero's uniform," Engel said. "That was the last piece that we had of him, (it) was really heartbreaking.”

The Goodwill told the family, donations in Southern California can end up anywhere, and they can't find the box.

The family turned to 10News hoping that our viewers can help find the uniforms and medals of their beloved patriarch.

A thrift store employee told them that they send donations to their stores around the country so their grandfather’s belongings could be anywhere. They’re hoping someone spots them and returns them.