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Paul Grisham has many memories from his time working as a meteorologist in Antarctica in the 1960s, but losing his wallet is not one of them. Yet here was a man on the phone last month telling Grisham that he had found it, 53 years later.

"It was like a bolt out of the blue," Grisham, 91, said. "It was because of what's in the wallet and what it looked like that I remembered a lot of things."

Grisham said the wallet, which he got back Jan. 30, contained a beer ration punch card; his military identification card; receipts from money orders he had sent to his wife back home in California; a recipe for Kahlúa; and an atomic, biological and chemical warfare pocket reference, which he was required to carry at all times.

The items have brought back memories of his 13-month stint starting in 1967 as a meteorologist for the U.S. Navy in Antarctica. He went as part of Operation Deep Freeze, which supports civilian scientists doing research there.

The ID shows Grisham "when I had brown hair," he said. The money orders had been bought with his poker winnings. The beer ration card? Grisham said he was "getting kind of a kick out of it, because there's only four holes punched in it," out of 23.

"I really had a preference for martinis," he said. Beer, he explained, was rationed because once the crew was "locked in" for the winter, no supplies came in or out. "It was so cold down there we had to keep our beer and soda pop in a heated warehouse," he added, "because if they got outside they'd swell up and burst."

The amateur sleuths who reunited Grisham with his wallet — Stephen Decato and his daughter, Sarah Lindbergh, and Bruce McKee — already had experience returning lost items to their owners. In 2018, Decato and Lindbergh found someone's Navy identification bracelet for sale at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. They bought it and, after an online search for help in locating its owner, found McKee through Indiana Spirit of '45, a nonprofit he started to honor service members.

They enlisted his assistance through Facebook, McKee said, and he searched for a year before locating the granddaughter of the bracelet's owner.

So in mid-January, when Decato's former boss sent him two wallets that had been found during a 2014 demolition of McMurdo Station, where Grisham was based in 1967, he and his daughter immediately reached out to McKee.

"After about 40 website searches,, we were able to locate both of them within about a week and a half to two weeks," McKee said, adding that he had also searched obituaries and websites of military organizations. One of the wallets belonged to Paul Howard, who died in 2016; it was given to his daughter, McKee said.

He tracked down Grisham through a blog post from 2012 on the Naval Weather Service Association's website. He called Grisham on Jan. 26. "Hey, are you missing a wallet?" he asked.

"He was a joy to speak with," McKee added. "He could not believe we had found that wallet for him."

McKee, who served in the Air Force, said it was important for him to reunite people with their lost items because each was "a memory of an individual's service, a loved one, a friend, a time or a place."

"My wife and I lost everything we had to a flood in 2008," he said. "I decided that if I could help someone get an item back, I would make every effort to do so." He's currently trying to find the owner of two items: a dog tag found by a Naval contractor and a Gideon Bible from World War II.

Grisham was born in Douglas, Ariz., on the Mexican border. He enlisted in the Navy straight out of high school and went to boot camp in San Diego. "I'm not going back to that desert," he recalled thinking when he saw the ocean.

He spent 25 years in the Navy, first as a weather technician and then as a weather forecaster. Grisham was living in California when he was ordered to Antarctica in 1967. The toughest part, he said, was leaving his family, in particular his two children, who were 4 and 7 at the time.

In Antarctica, Grisham said, he and the other men stationed there spent a lot of their free time in a two-lane bowling alley. He played poker and treated himself to martinis. Once a week, he was able to talk to his wife.

"It was a lot of hard work," he said about his time on "the ice," as he called it, adding that the subzero temperatures were sometimes trying. "During the winter," he said, "the sun goes down and for a period of about five months, there's no sunshine at all — it's black."

Grisham said the wallet brought back fond memories of the men who were stationed with him.

"I liked everybody down there," he said. "There were 180 men, 180 of the most congenial men that I ever had the pleasure to be with."