Eight lost Purple Heart medals were returned to their rightful owners on Monday. The medals were returned as part of a ceremony in New York City for National Purple Heart Day.
Seven of the Purple Heart medals were given to the families of dead U.S. service members. New York City firefighter and veteran Daniel Swift was the only recipient still living, according to NBC4 New York.
Veterans who were awarded the medals fought in World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and the war in Iraq, according to CBS New York. The ceremony was located at Federal Hall where George Washington, the Purple Heart’s founder, was sworn in as the nation’s first president.
The Vermont-based group Purple Hearts Reunited made it is mission to track down misplaced medals. Founder Zachariah Fike said that the group finds as many as five each week across the country, according to the Associated Press.
“I have some very good volunteer researchers out there, and we work around the clock to find these families,” Fike told NBC4 New York.
For many family members of the dead soldiers, it was good to relocate the medals.
Private Frank Lymann Dunnel of Buffalo, New York, earned his Purple Heart after being wounded in the Battle of Somme during World War I. His medal was found in a bank decades ago, but was recently turned in, according to great nice Frances Carlson.
“It really brings him back in a whole new dimension for me,” Carlson told NBC4 New York.
For the family of Army Private Dan Lyle Feragen, the process revealed that his Purple Heart had never been issued.
“They never really knew what had happened exactly, so it’s been a very emotional journey,” nephew Lyle Feragen told CBS New York.