CHICOPEE, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) -- Army Reserves Specialist Jackie Gatti had only been back from Afghanistan for an hour Tuesday night when a thief stole her camo military backpack containing irreplaceable personal mementos.
"Kind of a slap in the face after all I've just been through this past year for him or her, whoever, just decided to help himself to my belongings," Gatti said.
Gatti just returned from an eight month tour of duty guarding Taliban prisons in an Afghan detention facility. The 23-year-old was greeted by her proud mother, father and brothers inside a hanger at Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee Tuesday night. Then the Gatti family decided to go out to dinner before making the two hour trip home to South Weymouth. They stopped at a 99 restaurant just around the corner from the base.
When they got back into the family pick-up truck, Gatti realized her military backpack had been stolen out of the back of the truck.
"I kinda stared at the back of the truck for a minute and I said you have to be kidding me, it's gone. And that's really all I could get out of my mouth," she said.
Gatti says she fell to her knees sobbing because all of the proof of all the hard work she had put in and bravery she'd displayed for the past eight months was in her backpack.
"A lot of my military documentation was in there. All my awards from my deployment were in there. I had company coins that my commander and first sergeant had given me as a job well done," she said.
"The two hour ride home was, you know, we were crying and we were trying to control ourselves," Gatti's mother said.
Gatti and her mom, Carolyn, have called pawn shops around Chicopee and filed a police report. They hope someone reading this might know where to find the backpack. They say more than just getting the bag back, they want some of their faith restored in others by having that backpack returned.
"That's something that we pride ourselves on in the military is our integrity, so I hope this person can find theirs," Gatti said.
"My daughter just went over there for you, so you can live in the country you live in," Gatti's mom said.
Gatti says she is willing to pay who ever took her bag $1,000, which is more than they'll get for the backpack and its contents anywhere else. In addition to her ribbons and certificates, she also had a fleece military jacket and some gifts from her fellow soldiers inside the bag.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact their local police department.