PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — An astonishing discovery in downtown Panama City Sunday.
A local man came across a military decoration that had been lost for decades.
The Bronze Star Medal was awarded to then Corporal Jasper Black in 1945 for heroic achievement in military operations against the enemy in the Philippines during World War 2.
A plaque reads “When Japanese forces launched a night attack against this unit’s perimeter, Corporal Black, upon his own initiative, established a defensive machine gun position and directed an intense volume of effective fire at the enemy. Corporal Black’s gallant action was instrumental in repulsing the hostile attack and inflicting severe losses against the enemy.”
William Black is the son of Master Sergeant General Jasper Black. He said serving was in his father’s blood.
“He loved serving the people of Florida,” Black said. “He loved serving in the service. Dad was a servant. Even though I’ll be honest with you, I’ve had generals, I’ve had colonels, I’ve had captains. They said we worked for your dad in the National Guard. And I said, ‘No, no, my dad worked for you.’ They’d look at me and say ‘No you don’t understand. Your dad always had our back and we appreciated him because he covered for us.'”
Decades ago, the Bronze Star was lost, until local history buff Allan Branch discovered it Sunday in a downtown Panama City landmark building he acquired around a week ago.
“We just purchased the building at 436 Harrison Avenue about a week and a half ago and last Sunday, my son and I were cleaning the building out just initially,” Branch said. “Out of the corner of my eye, I saw this display and it looked kind of important. So we pulled it out and dusted it off. And I read it and I thought, ‘Well, who knows about Army?’ General McQueen does so I texted him and I was like, ‘I don’t know who this belongs to. If you can help me find him, that would be great.'”
Just hours later, Panama City City Manager Mark McQueen tracked down the family.
“Being able to reunite this decoration of the Bronze Star to the family of Master Sergeant Black, it’s a great day,” McQueen said. “And from an Army guy, this really means a lot to me personally to see this continue to show that legacy of service in the family.”
Black is thrilled the honor is back in his family’s possession.
“It’ll be passed down to some of my nephews so I’ll make sure that they honor it and honor him and remember him,” Black said. “Dad was the one, at 19 years old thrust into a war.”
Black said his father went on to serve 36 years in the National Guard and even earned an Oak leaf cluster for his service.