Discovering a Family Heirloom on eBay

Calvin Men, eBay News Team

How an internet search led a Texas man to his great grandfather’s World War II uniform on the eBay marketplace.

eBay’s global marketplace is a shopping destination for millions around the world for everyday goods and unique inventory — but it’s also a place for customers like Austin Staton to discover family treasures. 

Over social media, Austin shared a story about how his family came across his great grandfather’s World War II uniform on the eBay platform. His great grandfather, Sheldon “Paul” Purdy, served as a flight navigator during WWII in the U.S. Army Air Corps. 

In 2014, Sheldon died at 98 years old, and this year, curiosity led the family to search his name on the internet, where they discovered a surprise on eBay. Listed by a seller was a uniform, an officer’s hat and an Army pin — all belonging to Sheldon.

They knew it belonged to him because Sheldon’s name was stamped, albeit faded, on the inside of the uniform. How the items ended up with the seller remains a mystery, but the family knew it was a rare opportunity given to them by life and enabled by our platform. They bought each of the items and had them shipped to Houston, Texas, where Austin lives.



Austin wondered how chance and our platform led him and his family to this heirloom.

“It blows my mind that these items were in the hands of a stranger, but are now back in the hands of our family thanks to chance,” he wrote on Twitter. “That’s the power of technology. The power of @Google. The power of @eBay. Bringing historical connections to the modern era — and back to our family.”

Stories about connecting with great grandparents, finding the perfect tie and reliving old memories through a VCR are what drive our development and purpose as a company. Our purpose and mission is to empower users — whether it’s creating ways for sellers to communicate with buyers or helping people discover precious family treasures. 

To read more about how eBay creates everyday connections, visit