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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The family of a man injured in World War I gets a welcome surprise.
In a letter home to Pennsylvania, 2nd Lt. Donald A. McClure described the severe leg injury he had suffered. The letter came from France. The year was 1918. McClure was 22.
“What must have been going through his mind, the fear and just what’s going to happen to me,” said McClure’s grandson, Marc, reading the letter for the first time.
He knew of his grandfather’s experience in WWI but didn’t know that there was a piece missing.
“People often ask is there a market for military metals? We like to refer to it as circumstance of life,” said Jessica Jaggars, with Purple Hearts Reunited.
Three weeks ago, the nonprofit Purple Hearts Reunited reached out to this West Chester family, letting them know that they found something that belonged to them.
The organization seeks out and buys them from sellers on eBay as part of a nationwide mission to return misplaced medals of valor.
“I had a lot of questions and I was like wow this is really cool,” said Marc.
The McClure family wasn’t aware that Lt. McClure received a WWI Wound Certificate and like many, doesn’t know how it left the family. But inside of Marc’s mother’s West Chester home, the honor was returned.
What they received was the WWI Wound Certificate and it actually predates the Purple Heart. Any service member who received one of those was also eligible to receive a Purple Heart, which this family did have.
To date, Purple Hearts Reunited has returned 600 medals and certificates to veterans or their families.
“It’s more than just a medal, we bring back history, memories, sometimes it’s closure,” said Jaggars.
Lt. McClure passed away in 1965 at the age of 69.
“Have you ever heard of the saying, ‘You die twice. Once when you stop breathing, the other is when people stop talking about you?’” says Jaggars.
This returned certificate has made it so the conversation lives on.
“We just started talking about my grandfather and I saw pictures I’ve never seen before,” Marc said.