A father and son went fishing and came home without a fish but with a tale about a war hero that will be told the rest of their lives.
A Purple Heart and four other medals awarded to Anthony “Tony” Olivo were returned to the 94-year-old veteran this week after they were stolen in an Akron burglary and later found by a Lakemore father and his son while fishing.
“I can’t believe it,” said Olivo, who was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge and still has a scar on the right side of his neck.
The story unfolded over Palm Sunday weekend.
The five medals along with a safe containing valuables and a collection of watches were stolen in a burglary from Olivo’s son’s Northwest Akron home on the night before Palm Sunday.
On Palm Sunday, Bryan Eiseman, 47, and his son, Bradley Eiseman, 14, of Lakemore, went fishing at Mogadore Reservoir during the afternoon.
While walking along the reservoir in a remote area, they spotted something in the water.
It was a backpack.
They tried to fish it out with a pole but couldn’t get it.
So Bryan Eiseman, who works as a hand grinder, went into the cold water and pulled the backpack out.
It was heavy.
There was a large, heavy rock holding the pack down.
Once he brought it to shore and opened it up, he saw the medals.
“I know the guy who got these medals is probably really missing them,” he thought at the time.
There was a name on the back of the Purple Heart — Anthony Olivo.
Michelle Eiseman, Bryan’s wife, called the Portage County sheriff and Bryan Eiseman called the Beacon Journal.
An Internet search revealed relatives of the medal owner and it was determined that the medals had been stolen in a burglary and belonged to the 94-year-old man, who lives with his wife Philomena, 93.
Akron Police Detective Paul Hooper, who was investigating the burglary, contacted Bryan Eiseman and the Olivos’ son Dave and arranged to pick up the medals.
After the fishermen got the medals out of the bag on Palm Sunday, they left the wet, muddy bag in the reservoir.
Last week, they returned to the reservoir to see if the bag was still there and whether it contained more evidence from the burglary.
Bradley Eiseman waded into the cold water to see if there might be other evidence.
A few feet into chest-deep water, he found a safe that was stolen and hauled it back to shore.
The next day, Detective Hooper retrieved the medals, the safe and the backpack and returned all the items to Dave Olivo.
Another burglary at a home near Olivo’s house occurred around the same time and could be connected, Hooper said.
No one has been arrested, Hooper said.
When everything was returned to Tony Olivo, a retired Certified Public Accountant, the old warrior spoke of his time on the battlefield.
He said several comrades were killed in one fight before he was shot in the neck.
He was hospitalized for six months after being wounded and a part of the bullet remains in his body.
“I didn’t think I’d come back alive,” Olivo said.
His wife, who goes by the nickname Phil, was thrilled.
“I can’t get over this,” she said.
Bryan and Bradley Eiseman were happy to meet the man who shed his blood to win a Purple Heart, a Good Conduct Medal and three other medals for his country.
“It is awesome,” Bryan Eiseman said. “He deserves to get them back.”
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.