N.J. student replaces WWII veteran's stolen medals

(CBS News) MATAWAN, N.J. - They were born seven decades apart, but fate brought them together. It's a love story, but not the kind you think.

Workplace friendships are generally generational. The young blond at the front desk rarely has time for the old geezer who can't figure out the copier.

But, at an Avis in New Jersey, Jack Morris and Allison Eyres are inseparable.

"Everybody says, 'Why is a 22-year-old girl sitting around with some 90-year-old at work?'" Eyres said.

The answer is because she enjoys it, she explained.

Basically she loves history -- and he is history.

A couple of years ago, Eyres started asking him questions about his military service. Morris was in the Army during WWII. He put the fuses in bombs.

"And then I decided I should really write these down," Eyres said. "This is important."

And, so it went on for months. Morris spilled his stories, and Eyres soaked them up in a notebook. One day, Morris came to work with a brand new, harrowing account.

While he was sleeping, someone broke into his house.

"They went in through here, and started stealing whatever they felt like they wanted to take," Morris said.

The biggest thing he lost was his war medals.

"Why would they want to take that?" Morris said.

He had almost a dozen, which he still wore on occasion.

"I cherished them, just the memories," Morris said.

"He said to me, 'I really miss my medals,'" Eyres said. "And, that day I decided I was going to get them back. So I started doing some research."

After War: Eye on Veterans Affairs

Using photos she found in military magazines, Alison conducted her own little covert operation.

"I said, 'Jack, point out to me -- what were the medals that you had?' I was trying not to make it obvious," she said.

WWII veteran Jack Morris looks at all the medals his friend Allison Eyres replaced.
CBS News

A few weeks later -- they were all replaced.

"I could thank her a thousand times, but that wouldn't be enough," Morris said.

In America, we're now losing about 600 WWII vets every day, and far too many of those remaining don't have an Allison to take in their tales and award them the immortality they deserve.

"He's someone I will never forget," she said. "I will tell my kids his stories. I will tell anybody that wants to listen."

Grab your notebooks.

To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, e-mail us.
  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.

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