Man gets back wallet he lost in Antarctica 53 years ago

A man has managed to recover a wallet he lost in Antarctica 53 years ago while working there as a meteorologist.

Paul Grisham said he got the wallet back Jan. 30 after receiving a phone call last month from a man who claimed he found it.

“It was like a bolt out of the blue,” said Grisham, a former Navy man who is now 91, according to an account by The New York Times. “It was because of what’s in the wallet and what it looked like that I remembered a lot of things.”

Back in 1967, an unwitting Grisham dropped the wallet on the frozen tundra and went on his way.

All of its contents were still there after five decades.

According to the Times, Grisham’s wallet contained a trove of items preserved like a time capsule.

There was a beer ration punch card; military identification card; receipts from money orders sent to his wife in California; a recipe for Kahlúa; and an atomic, biological and chemical warfare pocket reference, which he was required to carry at all times.

Grisham said seeing his lost possessions took him back in time to “when I had brown hair,” he joked.

It was 1967 when Grisham began serving a 13-month assignment as a meteorologist for the United States Navy in Antarctica. He was there as part of Operation Deep Freeze, which supported research by civilian scientists, the Times reported.

Grisham revealed that he bought the money orders whenever he won a game of poker. The beer ration card only had “four holes punched in it” out of 23.

“I really had a preference for martinis,” he told the Times.

Beer had to be rationed because no supplies could be delivered to the crew after they were “locked in” for the winter. “It was so cold down there we had to keep our beer and soda pop in a heated warehouse,” he said, “because if they got outside they’d swell up and burst.”

Turns out the man who sent the wallet belongs to a pair of amateur sleuths who have recovered lost items before and returned them to their rightful owners.

Stephen Decato and his daughter, Sarah Lindbergh, purchased a Navy identification bracelet in 2018 and then used the internet to locate the servicemember who lost it.

They enlisted the help of another man, Bruce McKee, who ultimately found the bracelet’s owner through his nonprofit for soldiers.

In the case of Grisham’s wallet, Decato’s former boss sent him two that were found during a 2014 demolition of McMurdo Station, where Grisham was based in 1967.

From there, Decato and his daughter reached out to McKee again.

“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, according to the Times.

Grisham was tracked down through a blog post from 2012 on the Naval Weather Service Association’s website, the Times reported. McKee 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.”