Thief Steals Dead Veteran’s Purple Heart and Trades it for a Mountain Dew

Photo Credits: Nasir Kachroo/NurPhoto via Getty Images (Left) / Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images (right)

A dead veteran’s Purple Heart medal was stolen from a family’s home in North Carolina, only to be traded for a bottle of Mountain Dew.

The medal was stolen from Erica Laws’ family home. The family discovered that the home had been broken into and ransacked. In the incident’s official report, it was noted that the Purple Heart was one of a number of medals that had been stolen from the residence.

The Purple Heart belonged to Laws’ father, Daniel Laws, who had served in the Vietnam war. During his time in the military, he earned two Purple Hearts and two Bronze Star Medals, which had also gone missing.

The incident has affected his daughter, who feels her care of her father’s medals has not been enough. “I felt so bad because he protected the country and I can’t even protect his memory,” Laws said.

31-year-old Charles Carr stole the medals and soon used the Purple Heart as a trading tool for a Mountain Dew Code Red.

The Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office has remained tight-lipped on the information given to news outlets but has revealed that the Purple Heart has been recovered. Unfortunately, the other medals have not yet been found.

Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office also shared that Carr was wanted for obtaining property under false pretense. The medals were not the only things stolen by Carr, as other objects from around the home were taken, as well as an ATV.

Currently, Carr does not appear to have an attorney.

The Bronze Star Medal

Bronze Star
Bern twp., PA – October 7: The Bronze Star Medal that Edward W. Mull received while serving in WWII.  (Photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

The Bronze Star Medal is one of the highest awards for valor in the US military. It can be awarded to any Servicemember of the United States Armed Forces, or anyone who has operated alongside them, including civilians. Some notable civilians who have been awarded the Bronze Star Medal include Ernest Hemingway, who received his medal because “through his talent of expression, Mr. Hemingway enabled readers to obtain a vivid picture of the difficulties and triumphs of the front-line soldier and his organization in combat.”

The medal was first introduced during WWII as a morale boost for ground troops that was equal to the Air Medal for airmen. It was first authorized by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt. President John F. Kennedy changed the requirements for the medal in 1962, to include those who have served alongside US forces.

The Purple Heart medal

Purple Heart
Bern twp., PA – October 7: The Purple Heart medal Edward W. Mull received while serving in WWII. (Photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

The Purple Heart is the United States’ oldest military medal that is still actively presented to servicemembers. It is awarded to any member of the United States Armed Forces for “Being wounded or killed in any action against an enemy of the United States or as a result of an act of any such enemy or opposing armed forces”

More From Us: Cordelia Cook Was The First Woman To Earn Both A Bronze Star And A Purple Heart

Originally, the medal was created by George Washington in the 1780s as an award for gallantry in battle. Called the Badge of Military Merit, it was a small purple-colored heart made of cloth. Only a small amount of these was awarded and fell into disuse soon after its creation. The medal was later revived after WWI as the Purple Heart, and was made as a direct successor to the Badge of Military Merit, although this time it was awarded for wounds sustained by enemy actions, rather than gallantry.

Hopefully, Daniel Laws’ medals will be safely recovered.

Jesse Beckett

Jesse Beckett is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE