Mesa, AZ (March 17, 2016) — You can find a lot of treasures at second-hand stores, but one Mesa couple said they found a Purple Heart, which sparked a nationwide search for its owner.
They said they were at Goodwill looking for green shirts for St. Patrick’s Day, when they say they found the Purple Heart in the jewelry section.
“This is not right that this is in a Goodwill,” Laura Hardy said. “We’re going to take it out and try to connect with its family.”
She and her husband said they knew the item marked for $4.99 was priceless to someone.
“It’s heavy and it’s engraved,” Hardy said.
That someone is the family of Eual Whiteman.
Thanks to Hardy’s now-viral Facebook post, we know Whiteman, who didn’t have any children, served in the Army. We’ve learned he is likely buried at a national cemetery in Oregon.
“I really respect people who go into the military,” Hardy said.
Hardy said she learned the Purple Heart ended up in a box of Whiteman’s nephew’s things that were donated across the country.
“I can’t believe the outpouring from all over the country and I’m going to search the Goodwills in the jewelry section and see if there’s any other medals that’s need to be returned,” Hardy said.
But a spokesperson for Goodwill said their employees sift through thousands of items a day so it’s likely this accolade slipped through.
“If they do identify an item of significance like a Medal of Honor, we ask them to pull them and then we do try to contact, whether it’s the VA or local authorities,” said Courtney Nelson with Goodwill of Central Arizona.
Thanks to her hard work and the power of social media, Hardy said the medal is now on its way back to its rightful owner.
“It must’ve been very valuable to his family and I thought they should have it back,” she said.
She also credits Tina Cook with Veteran Buddy Finders for helping her find the family.