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Small Token Brings Back A Lifetime of Lost Memories

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LILLINGTON — A husband and wife in Harnett County are re-united with a very special part of their past. It was lost for more than 50 years, but this Memorial Day has brought back a special bracelet the couple thought they would never see again.

"It was something to remember me by while he was going overseas," says Lelia Puryear.

In 1943, 18-year-old Lelia gave the bracelet to 19-year-old Bleland Puryear just before he left to fight in World War II. The bracelet made it through the worst of battles on Bleland's wrist.

"That bracelet made it. It stayed with me all the time," he said. "I wore it all the time. I got captured in the Battle of the Bulge, and they didn't take it. They let me keep it."

In 1947, Puryear returned from war, and he and Lelia were married. But in 1948, he lost the bracelet on a hunting trip deep in the woods in Harnett County.

"When I got home I knew I'd lost my bracelet," he said.

A couple years ago, Barbara Jones made her home on the land that was Puryear's hunting ground; a couple days ago she saw something shiny in the grass.

While Jones was watering her yard, she found the bracelet covered in dirt.

"I didn't pay any attention to it until the next day," Jones said, "that's when I decided to wash it off and see what's on it."

Jones saw a name, and a social security number. After one phone call to the operator, the phone rang at the Puryear household.

"I was stunned," Puryear said. "It brings back some sad memories, and it brings back a bundle of pleasant memories."

More than 50 years later, Puryear is holding onto a piece of his past. It has been a Memorial Day weekend, the couple of 53 years will never forget.

"I hope it keeps us bonded the rest of our years together," Lelia Puryear said.

Bleland Puryear says when he goes hunting in the future, he will leave the bracelet at home.