Veterans recover 'missing' breast plate

05.12.2017 Dean Rhodes Culture, People, Public Safety

A missing breast plate made from spent brass M16 shells that was donated to the Grand Ronde Tribe during the 2016 Veterans Powwow has been found.

Veterans Special Event Board Chairman Steve Bobb Sr. said that Tribal member Deitz Peters had the breast plate and was working on making its neck band more comfortable.

When Peters saw a front-page story about the missing breast plate in the April 1 edition of Smoke Signals, he called Bobb to remind him that he had the breast plate.

The breast plate went “missing” after the August 2016 Contest Powwow. Its disappearance was turned over to the Grand Ronde Tribal Police Department for investigation and Crime Stoppers publicized the case.

“Me and Pooter (Tribal Elder Alton Butler) had talked to Deitz,” Bobb said. “Pooter is the one who wears it. It had like only a single leather band that went around his neck. Well, that thing is kind of heavy, especially when you wind up standing out there for 45 minutes or longer. Even though we tried to tuck it under his shirt collar and stuff like that, by the time 45 minutes went by it was pulling on his neck pretty heavy. It’s kind of weighty.

“So we had asked Deitz Peters if he could somehow put a leather pad around that and add some padding so it wasn’t just that single string, and we gave it to him.”

However, as the veterans started assembling their equipment and regalia for the upcoming powwow season in early December, both Bobb and Butler forgot they had given it to Peters and started wondering where it had gone.

“Pooter said he thought he remembered giving it to somebody, but we both spaced on it because a few months had passed. … When it came out in the paper, he (Peters) called me right away and said he has had it all that time.”

Part of the mix-up, Bobb said, occurred because Peters, who had been attending Veterans Special Event Board meetings regularly, took a break to care for his ailing wife, who recently walked on.

“The last thing he was thinking about was our breast plate,” Bobb said.

Bobb said the one-of-a-kind breast plate, which was donated to the Tribe by the Eugene-Springfield chapter of the Oregon Veterans Motorcycle Association in appreciation for being allowed to use Kalapuya as its chapter name, is now in his possession.

“I’m keeping an eyeball on it,” Bobb said. “It’s not getting away from me now. It’s in the top part of one of my closets so I know right where it’s at.”