MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — The things Lt. Col. Joe Jackson stored in his mother's basement before his most recent deployment couldn't be worth more than a few hundred dollars to a pawn shop, he said Tuesday night.
They were family keepsakes, mostly: His father's Xavier class ring, relatives' dress watches and mementos from his other tours of duty. Nothing he felt he needed to worry about when he left for Afghanistan on Valentine's Day.
They were gone when he returned for Thanksgiving, leaving him awash in "shock, anger and disappointment."
"You realize the magnitude — the value beyond the monetary value of the things that were taken from you and how irreplaceable they are," he said. "Whether you can find them in a jewelry store or have them recreated, it's never going to be the same."
His mother couldn't have moved them, he said. Multiple strokes have kept Rosalind Jackson in need of daily care since the turn of the century, and her family pays for a rotating team of caregivers to ensure her safety and comfort.
She and her son believe one of those caregivers could be behind the theft. The culprit must have had both access to the home and in-depth knowledge of its contents, according to Joe Jackson. He didn't store his valuables in conspicuous containers.
"It makes me sick," his mother said. "Really."
Jackson had returned to Fort Benning by Tuesday night. He said he had been working closely with Middletown, Ohio police to find leads and track down his missing possessions but encouraged members of the public to reach out with information as well.
His hope? When he comes home again for Christmas, his treasured keepsakes will be there, too.