This Purple Heart Is Back With Its Rightful Owner After Being Lost for Over a Decade
Thanks to one caring individual, a Purple Heart is back with its rightful owner.
About a decade ago Joseph “Dusty” Ridlon was walking in the streets of Nyack, New York when he noticed a Purple Heart on the ground. He picked it up and later put the medal in a box, forgetting about it until earlier this month.
“I picked it up,” Ridlon said to CBS News. “I knew exactly what it was. I knew because my father has one.”
When Ridlon realized he still had the medal, he knew he had to find a way to get it back to its rightful owner. However, the only clue Ridlon had to who it belonged to was the inscription on the back.
The Purple Heart said “for military merit, B.J. McNamara, Dec. 9, 1943.”
Ridlon brought the medal to his local American Legion center, hoping they could assist him in the search.
“There’s no doubt it’s a real Purple Heart,” Anthony DelRegno, a former Navy corpsman and post commander of the C.R. and R.O. Blauvelt American Legion Post 310 in Nyack, told Fox News.
DelRegno asked the historian from the American Legion center to look into it, yet he struggled to find an answer.
There is no national database for Purple Heart recipients, and several people served under the name “B.J. McNamara” during World War II.
Luckily for Ridlon, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York got involved, and they were able to find the family and give the medal back.
“We’ve solved the mystery of the missing Purple Heart,” U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer told CBS News. “It was sort of like finding a needle in a haystack.”
The medal was returned to McNamara’s family in a special ceremony.
“That’s very special,” Catherine Birong, McNamara’s daughter, said to CBS News. “My dad was a very quiet, humble man. Having these medals given back to us is great.”
Birong explained that her dad was wounded in Italy and was eventually captured by Nazis during the war. He passed away in 1975.
Ridlon was extremely grateful that the family finally got the medal back.
“I’m sorry it took so long to give back to them,”Ridlon said to CBS News. “I’m happy that the people got it that deserve it.”