Gold Star mother of Afghan combat casualty appeals for help in return of stolen mementos

A Gold Star mother who lost her Marine son in Afghanistan was victimized on Memorial Day by a heartless thief who ransacked her car and made off with a jacket and bracelets commemorating her son.

Now, the grieving woman is asking for public’s help getting the treasured items back — no questions asked.

Rosalia Verbeek’s Gold Star jacket, a gift from her husband and intended to be worn only by mothers who have lost a child in war, was among the items stolen from her car parked in Visalia, Calif., Monday night.

“This jacket has no value to anyone other than Rosalia Verbeek,” Fox News West coast correspondent William La Jeunesse told Fox anchor Martha MacCallum Wednesday.

The jacket was a gift from Verbeek’s husband, and it means the world to her.

“It’s a hard thing to put on,” she said. “When I did, I felt like I was honoring my son. Now it’s gone.”

The bracelets also have no value to anyone other than Verbeek. They bear the name of her son, Marine Cpl. Jared Verbeek, who died in combat four years ago.

The police have no leads, according to La Jeunesse.

“The Verbeeks are just hoping that this thief will leave them on the lawn or the doorstep at night so that he can avoid the shame of having done something like this,” he said.

“He always wanted to be a Marine — in fact, he got an appointment to the Naval Academy,” La Jeunesse reported. But impatience prompted him to enlist when his country was at war.

When the Verbeeks returned to Visalia with their son’s body, “residents lined the streets” of the tiny farming community “to honor him.” The state has even renamed a bridge in Visalia in Verbeek’s honor.

To this day, the Verbeeks visit their son’s grave, “sometimes twice a day,” LaJeunesse reported.

Anyone with information about the crime is urged to contact the Visalia Police Department at (559) 734-8116.

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