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War medals returned to family member of World War II veteran

Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 5:41 PM CDT
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MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. (WIFR) - From the outskirts of Dallas, Texas to Machesney Park, pieces of military history make their way home to the Stateline, and the return of seven stolen medals brings honor to a World War II veteran.

“On behalf of the Adjutant General for the state of Illinois National Guard, and the United States Army we would like to return these medals, to your family,” Director of the Joint Staff for the Illinois Army National Guard Mark Jackson said.

The seven war medals had a long journey to make their way back to Illinois and into the arms of Kathy Andersen. Andersen is the great-niece of World War II veteran Homer Stanger who earned those accolades.

“He was just always so thankful he could serve his country and he was just always a kind man," Andersen said.

The story behind the medals' journey is one to remember, they went missing likely stolen during a home robbery in the Rockford area. The medals appeared in Wise County Texas, found by sheriff’s deputies during a narcotics investigation.

“It was put into their evidence locker and while cleaning out their locker they found it and did the right thing and contacted us," Jackson said.

Andersen remembers her great uncle as a kind and humble man who didn’t talk about his time in the war, but the medals speak for themselves.

“That’s bronze stars that’s purple hearts, that one is good conduct," One member of the National Guard said

For Andersen, the return of these medals is the perfect way to honor her decorated relative her hero.

“It’s just an honor to get those back again and be able to honor him and his service," Andersen said. "I talked to someone and they said the metals he got are very high honors.”

Andersen says she is going to keep the medals at home for a bit but plans to contact the Loves Park VFW to see if it would honor her great uncle there.

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