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Purple Heart found at Goodwill prompts search for war hero's family

By Daniel Uria   |   March 17, 2016 at 3:16 PM

MESA, Ariz., March 17 (UPI) -- An Arizona woman sought the family of a local war hero after finding a Purple Heart on sale for $4.99 at an area thrift store.

Laura Hardy shared a photo of the medal hoping to find the family of former United States soldier Eual H. Whiteman after finding his Purple Heart medal for sale at a Mesa Goodwill.

"Looking for the family of Eual H. Whiteman. Deceased in nineteen ninety one," she wrote in a Facebook post on March 12. "What a shame to find it at Goodwill for $4.99."

Two days later a woman named Elaine Anderson wrote a post in the Facebook group Missouri Genealogy revealing that the case had been solved.

She wrote that Tina Durnil Cook found that Whiteman had given the Purple Heart to his nephew who passed his belongings, including the medal, to a friend after a run in with the law.

"The nephew was recently incarcerated and gave his belongings to a friend for safe keeping. The friend donated his belongings to Goodwill," she wrote.

Cook contacted Phyllis Lawson, the nephew's mother, who graciously accepted the medal from Hardy.

"Legacy is something we don't have a lot of and it's precious to ya," Lawson told ABC 15.

Lawson described Whiteman, who also received three battle stars, a Combat Badge and a Presidential Unit Badge while serving with the 82nd Airborne division, as a "very impressive looking man."

She was unsure how the medal made it's way to Arizona but was thankful that Hardy took the time to get it back to her.

"She wanted to repay me the $4.99!" Hardy said. "I said 'no, this is my good deed for the day.'"

Looking for the family of Eual H. Whiteman. Deceased in nineteen ninety one. What a shame to find it at Goodwill for $4.99.

Posted by Laura Waldock Hardy on Saturday, March 12, 2016
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