• Family found! Goodwill to return donated Purple Heart

    By: Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    Update 3:26 p.m. EDT July 11: The family of a Purple Heart recipient has been found and the medal will soon be returned to the man's family, officials with Goodwill Industries of Southern Arizona announced on the group's Facebook page.

    The family of Nick D'Amelio Jr. was found through the work of Purple Hearts Reunited, private investigators with the help of social media, Goodwill officials said in a press release.

    The medal will be returned to a great grand nephew of D'Amelio's in an event Friday, the press release said.

    Original report: Goodwill gets all kinds of treasures donated and put on sale at its stores, but there is one item that Goodwill is not wanting to sell but rather return to its rightful owners.

    Someone donated a Purple Heart, and now the workers at a Tucson Goodwill store are trying to get it back to the rightful owners. The service medal had been tossed into a box of housewares last month, CNN reported.

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    "I was going through a box, just like any other day," Talon Mills, a worker at the store told KGUN. "And there was that small box right there. I opened it -- recognized it right away -- knew what it was."

    There was a name engraved on the back of the award -- Nick D'Amelio Jr.

    D'Amelio was a Seaman, 2nd Class in the Navy, serving in World War II. 

    His destroyer, the USS Little, was sunk by Japanese warships near Guadalcanal on Sept. 5, 1942, CNN reported.

    D'Amelio never came home and was listed lost at sea. His medal was awarded posthumously. The Purple Heart is awarded to someone wounded or killed in combat.

    Now Goodwill of Southern Arizona is looking to get D'Amelio's Purple Heart into the hands of his family, hoping that social media will make the connection.

    They're also working with Purple Hearts Reunited, a group of people whose mission is "to return lost, stolen and misplaced military medals of valor to veterans or their families, in order to honor their sacrifice to the nation."

    Purple Hearts Reunited says 1.8 million Purple Hearts have been award since 1932. They have hundreds of medals waiting to be reunited with their rightful owners. The group has found 1,050 medals, with 640 returned to families.

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