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Trying to find the owner of a Purple Heart medal that was saved from the trash

Posted: 5:50 PM, Nov 19, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-20 12:20:31-05

A Great Falls man is trying to return a piece of history to its rightful place after it was found in the trash.

About 2 weeks ago a man selling scrap at Pacific Steel and Recycling told employees he had found a Purple Heart in a Great Falls dumpster.

The Purple Heart is a medal awarded to service men and women who are wounded or killed in service.

When Pacific Recycling Branch Manager Aaron Hartnell learned the man planned to pawn the medal, he decided to buy it and began searching for the owner.

The Purple Heart awarded to a Robert M. Johnson has not yet been claimed.

As part of his search Hartnell has reached out to Purple Hearts Reunited, a nonprofit dedicated to returning lost or stolen medals, he has also posted to social media and reached out to Malmstrom Air Force base for help.

“It’s hard to say exactly what happened, I have a hard time believing that someone would throw this away intentionally it’s pretty special,” says Hartnell. “I just want to make sure that it gets back to who it’s supposed to belong to.”

Along with the medal the man also found a set of Army Air Force wings which he also gave to Hartnell to return to return to their owner.

If you have information about the medals recipient Robert M. Johnson or his next of kin you can contact Aaron Hartnell at Pacific Steel and Recycling by calling 406-791-8550.

  • Reported by Joe Huisinga