SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs launched “Operation Purple Heart” on Tuesday.
The goal is to return 11 Purple Heart medals to their rightful owners, which were submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office for safekeeping and return as part of the Unclaimed Property program.
“These medal personify honor, sacrifice and duty. They belong in the loving care of a family, rather than hidden in our cold vault, hidden in a basement,” Frerichs said.
Frerichs hopes that attention to the upcoming Veterans Day celebrations and tributes will spark a memory, or provide a clue so that these medals can be returned. 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, and neither the Armed Forces, or the federal government, maintains a comprehensive list of awardees.
The Illinois State Treasurer’s Office has released a limited amount of information that the owners, or their relatives, might recognize:
- 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
“Our ask is simple. If you recognize a name, and you know they lived in the city, then reach out to them, because maybe we have their Purple Heart,” Frerichs said.