Purple Heart reunited with daughter of Toledo veteran

Non-profit Purple Hearts Reunited returns Purple Heart to family after it went missing eight years ago
Non-profit Purple Hearts Reunited reunites Purple Heart with family after it went missing eight years ago
Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 11:27 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - “Purple Hearts Reunited” returns medals of valor to veterans and their families. Thursday, the family of Private First Class Vincent Joseph Chavez was reunited with their Purple Heart in Toledo. The ceremony was held at the Calvary Cemetery, where PFC Chavez is buried.

PFC Chavez served in WWII, and then again in Korea with the 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division at the time of his death. He was Killed in Action in North Korea on May 31, 1953 at the age of 26. His daughter Carmen Mary Chavez was eight months old at the time of his death. Now a piece of her father is back with her, after it had been gone for years.

“It had been on my mind a while that I lost the medal,” said Carmen Chavez. “Now it came home to me.” Carmen tells 13abc that she lost the medal when moving homes about eight years ago. Then two years ago, someone came forward and reported the medal to “Purple Hearts Reunited,” starting the process to get the medal back to its home.

“The joy that it brings to them, there’s really nothing like it,” said Erin Faith Allen, Operations Director for PHR. “It’s really special.”

The Chavez family has a long and proud tradition of service in the United States Military. PFC Chavez’s brother Ramon also died while in service in 1945, and his 4 sisters each had sons who served in the military, for a total of 5 sons. The family continues to serve, with PFC Chavez’s nieces and nephews raising children who serve or have served. The extended family has around 12 proud Veterans to date. One of Carmen Chavez’s cousins was present for this special day, and says this moment was a long time coming.

“It’s gratifying, that somebody would take the time to find, and to give back what my cousin lost,” said Cecelia McHaffie, Carmen’s cousin. “It’s just nice. Such a wonderful thing. It’s all I can say.”

“I wish I could’ve known him,” Carmen added. “I always had that lost feeling in me. Now I don’t feel lost anymore.”

Purple Hearts Reunited is a nonprofit foundation that returns medals of valor to veterans or their families in order to honor their sacrifice to the nation. The organization has returned medals and artifacts to over 850 families, museums, and Homes of Honor.

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