A veteran who was haunted by a mischievous deed of his youth finally did the right thing almost half a century later, returning a sword to its rightful owner ... which happens to be a statue.
The guy's identity is being shielded by Cindy Gaylord -- the head of Westfield, MA's historical commission ... who granted him anonymity and allowed him to return it to her under what seems to be a free pass, seeing how sorry he apparently was for taking it 40 years ago.
You heard that right ... a whole 40 YEARS. Apparently, this fella told Gaylord he took the bronze sword in 1980, back in his college days after a night of drinking. He and his buddies went out to the park where a statue of Revolutionary War hero Gen. William Shepard stood ... and this vet proceeded to pry the weapon out of Billy's sculpted hands with brute force.
The next morning, he told her they realized what they'd done ... and ended up keeping the damn thing to avoid punishment. The sword was replaced by a local craftsman and funded by a private donor. Now, it looks like Gen. Shepard has two swords at his disposal.
Not really, though ... the original is said to be headed to a museum somewhere, where it'll be preserved and probably put on display. As for the vet who did this ... Gaylord says he felt a great deal of shame and remorse and says he felt bad taking another soldier's weaponry.