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Illinois Treasurer hopes to return 11 unclaimed Purple Heart medals

Treasurer Michael Frerichs launched a new effort Tuesday to return unclaimed Purple Heart...
Treasurer Michael Frerichs launched a new effort Tuesday to return unclaimed Purple Heart medals to their rightful owners or family members.(Gray TV IL Capitol Bureau)
Published: Nov. 2, 2021 at 5:09 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WIFR) - Treasurer Michael Frerichs launched a new effort Tuesday to return unclaimed Purple Heart medals to their rightful owners or family members.

Frerichs started Operation Purple Heart to help bring attention to the honorary medals around Veterans Day.

The Treasurer says military medals are some of the hardest items to return. Frerichs noted the official name submitted with the unclaimed medals may not be the name of the honored veteran.

His office released the last names and known cities where families may have put the medals in banks.

“We’re also going to work with other organizations like the VFW, like the American Legion, to enlist their help to contact their members and see what we can do to spark someone’s memory. Because we think that will lead to very happy reunions,” Frerichs said.

The unclaimed medals were found in safe deposit boxes in Chicago, Peoria, Decatur, O’Fallon, and Channahon, Illinois. Frerichs said one of the medals also came back from Portland, Oregon.

The unclaimed medals were found in safe deposit boxes in Chicago, Peoria, Decatur, O'Fallon,...
The unclaimed medals were found in safe deposit boxes in Chicago, Peoria, Decatur, O'Fallon, and Channahon, Illinois. Frerichs said one of the medals also came back from Portland, Oregon.(Gray TV Illinois Capitol Bureau)

You can find more information at illinoistreasurer.gov. Frerichs says misrepresenting oneself to recover unclaimed property will not be tolerated. His office will seek prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.

“These medals personify honor, sacrifice, and duty,” Frerichs said. “They belong in the loving care of families rather than hidden inside our cold basement vault.”

The Treasurer’s office hosts an unclaimed property auction each year during the Illinois State Fair. However, Frerichs says they will never sell military medals.

“You can’t purchase that honor. You can’t purchase that sacrifice,” Frerichs said. “So we will hold on to these forever. But our hope is that by enlisting the aid of people in the state of Illinois, we won’t hold onto them much longer.”

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