OAKLAND, Calif. -- It was a terrible welcome for an Army veteran who had just moved to Oakland. His belongings and military memorabilia were stolen. But thanks to San Leandro police, retired Sgt. David Wallach has been made whole again. It's a story you'll see only on ABC7 News.
Wallach was with the 101st Airborne Division. He had two tours in Iraq and served in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Haiti. He moved to Oakland from the East Coast several weeks ago, only to find himself the victim of a burglary. The accused thief is a man with a long rap sheet.
San Leandro police say officers discovered the stolen property when they arrested Michael Welch at his Oakland home on Monday.
"Most of those belongings were military uniforms and military artifacts," said Lt. Robert McManus. "And we knew it probably belonged to someone in the military. We just didn't know who it came from."
A closer look at the stolen items revealed the answer.
"The detectives actually found a luggage tag on one of the military surplus bags with the staff sergeant's name on it," said Mcmanus.
The stolen items belong to Wallach, who retired after 20 years in the Army. He had just moved to Oakland.
"I walked out for coffee that morning and I'm like, damn U-Haul is gone," he said.
Wallach couldn't believe it when he got that call from police.
His most prized possessions are his military coins, medals, and artifacts. Especially a flag that he says was given to him by Colonel Steele.
It's the flag that flew over his brigade's headquarters in Iraq for nine minutes and 11 seconds to honor those who died September 11, 2001.
"And this one was presented to me by the commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division back in 2011," said Wallach. "You have to earn those. They just don't give that stuff away, you know."
Police say they were honored to return these belongings to a vet who served the country.
Wallach says there are no words but these to express his gratitude, "Thank you very much lieutenant. Thank you," he said while shaking McManus' hand.