Reuniting Purple Hearts with their rightful owners

HEART
The Illinois State Treasurer is seeking to return 11 Purple Hearts to their rightful owners. Photo credit Alex Wong/Getty Images

Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs is on a mission to return 11 Purple Hearts to their rightful owners in an effort he calls Operation Purple Heart.

The military honors were submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office for safekeeping and return as part of the Unclaimed Property program, also known as I-Cash or missing money.

Podcast Episode
Eye on Veterans
"The Rifle" one of the best WWII memoirs ever
Listen Now
Now Playing
Now Playing

“These medals personify honor, sacrifice, and duty,” Frerichs said. “They belong in the loving care of families rather than hidden inside our cold basement vault.”

Military medals are among the most difficult items to return because the name under which the honor was submitted as unclaimed property might not correspond to the name of the honoree. Neither the armed forces nor the federal government maintains a comprehensive list of awardees.

It is possible that the military honor under which the medal was submitted is not related to the awardee. In an effort to find the rightful owners, the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office is releasing a limited amount of information that the owners or their relatives might recognize:

Last names and last known cities connected to the family that rented the safe deposit box containing the Purple Heart medal: Cawthon, Received, Nov. 1, 1992, Portland, Oregon Wilson, Received, Nov. 13, 1995, Chicago Burns, Received, Nov. 5, 1997, Homewood Moore, Received, Oct. 17, 2001, Peoria Smith, Received, Nov. 18, 2002, Oak Park Gorski, Received, Oct. 30, 2003, Darien Tuttle, Received, Oct. 25, 2018, Decatur Alexander, Received, Oct. 26, 2018, Channahon Isbell or Shayer, Received, Oct. 31, 2018, Chicago Steward or VanHasselaere, Received, Oct. 31, 2018, Round Lake Wiest, Received, Oct. 23, 2019, O’Fallon.