The saying might go “Finders, keepers,” but Laurie Hardy knew better when she saw a Purple Heart in the jewelry section of her local Goodwill. She knew it must have great meaning to the owner, and their family, so when she bought it for $4.99, she made it her mission to find the rightful owner and return the medal.
But she never could have imagined what she would bring to the family of Eual H. Whiteman, the man whose name was carved into the medal. She started by posting a photo of the medal online, where it was quickly shared around the country and seen by Phyllis Lawson, the ex-sister-in-law of the brave soldier.
A nephew had inherited the medal, which got mixed into a box of belongings that he stored at a friend’s house. Somehow the whole thing got donated--along with the medal. But when Laurie was connected with Phyllis, she discovered something even more amazing. The man behind the medal was featured on a cover of LIFE magazine in the 50s and was a stuntman in the movie The Way West with Sally Field, but he never mentioned the Purple Heart to his own family!
Phyllis eventually lost touch with Eual, so it was Laurie--a perfect stranger--who taught her a lot about her once brother-in-law. His medal is now headed back to Missouri to be mounted alongside the Purple Heart his father earned before him.
Watch the news clip below to learn more about the man behind the medal and the Purple Heart’s long journey back home.
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