Chesapeake family searches for Purple Heart lost in fire’s wreckage


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — It’s been just one week since a home burned to the ground in the Great Bridge area of Chesapeake, displacing nine people including a pregnant mother of five.

On Monday, 10 On Your Side went back to the scene and found the family searching for a Purple Heart lost somewhere in the middle of their burned-out home.

“I lost it in the area right over there,” said Joe Hamric Sr., pointing to the area near the burned-out washer and dryer. No one is working harder to find the Purple Heart than Joe Hamric Sr.’s son, Joe Hamric Jr.

“Look at this everything is gone… This is the kickstand and pegs, and this is the sprocket for the gears of my bike… Look over here, isn’t that wild? It melted. Like, that is unbelievably hot,” Joe Hamric Jr. said.

The fact is, that Purple Heart may have melted. The blaze burned so hotly, the cause cannot be determined.

The fire has tested the family, which lost everything. But, if anything, the Purple Heart shows Joe Hamric Sr.’s been tested more than just once in life.

“The Hamric family is a rough family. He went to Vietnam thinking it would be a reprieve from all the trouble and chaos at home,” Joe Hamric Jr. said describing his father’s family growing up.

Vietnam tested Joe Hamric Sr. He was badly injured in the line of duty.

“I got hit in Vietnam with that rocket-propelled grenade. It knocked off my finger, put out my eye, took off part of my toe, and scarred me all the way up my chest,” Joe Hamric Sr. said.

The second big test: Joe Hamric Sr.’s pet monkey ripped off his thumbs in 2010. We reported on the attack on WAVY-TV.

“Look at the scar… It cut my wrist and tore my thumbs off… You can see scars here as it ripped it off and ripped this one off too,” he said.

It happened when Joe Hamric Sr. went to put Noah the monkey in his cage.

“He then continued to grab my thumb, and he would not let it go, and it started hurting. I was trying to rip it off to be honest with you. I was going to rip it off, so I could get away from him,” he said.

Noah would not quit and continued to pursue the attack.

“I then went up and grabbed his neck, and stuck that finger in his mouth, and I said, ‘Lord have mercy.’ I’ll never get out of this one,” he recounted.

He literally had to lay on Noah to get control.

Now, Joe Hamric Sr.’s been tested by fire. He calls what happened last Wednesday “a nightmare.” He lost his entire home and considers this the worst loss of all.

“I think this ranks top of the line. This is up there. It is a mental thing living here 40 some years. Then, boom, gone. It’s sad… It’s one big thing after another. It’s not a small thing. It’s a big thing. It’s just wrecked my life — that is all,” he said.

After a life full of tests, it seems ironic what was found in the burned-out ashes of the home on Washington Drive: a burned book turned to the chapter “The Final Test.”

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