Returning a Purple Heart medal is very important to an American Vietnam veteran

Don Crigger is a man on a mission: the Marine veteran who saw action in Vietnam is searching for the owner of a lost Second World War Purple Heart medal, the News-Press in St. Joseph, Mo., reported recently.

A Purple Heart is very important because a serviceman lost blood for his country, he said. It requires recognition, and someone who earned that should have that in their possession.

Two decades ago a friend of his brought Crigger a box of old picture frames at an antique store in Missouri, the Huntington Herald-Dispatch in West Virginia reported.

A couple of years later she looked through the box and came across the medal with the name ‘Pete E. Cole’ and a serial number, both engraved on it.

His friend now has cancer, Crigger, 74, of St. Joseph, told the newspaper, and has become obsessed with returning the medal.

The ex-Marine learned from his research that Cole, 20, enlisted in the Army in 1942 in Huntington, but additional information hasn’t been acquired.

The story in the newspaper led to some new leads.  One led to a West Virginia woman who married one of Cole’s brothers.

The News-Press reported the woman told Crigger that Cole survived the war, died around 1973 and had a daughter who lived in Ohio.

Crigger, with the help of Zachariah Fike of Purple Hearts Reunited, is attempting to find her, Fox News reported.

With many of these medals, especially if it’s a posthumous medal, this would have been the last concrete item given to a family from their loved one, Fike told the News-Press. To be disconnected from an item like that and then reunited with it has substantial meaning. Spiritually, that person is returned to the family.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE