Laurie Hardy was completely shocked when her husband spotted a Purple Heart being sold for $4.99 on a Goodwill jewelry rack. She purchased it, determined to track down the owner.
“This is one of the highest military honors you could get. This is something the family will cherish for a lifetime,” Hardy told ABC.
Hardy posted on Facebook, garnering over 88,000 shares, and partnered with Veteran Buddy Finder to track down the name on the back: Eual H. Whiteman.
She found out that Whiteman was buried in the Willamette National Cemetery in Oregon, after he died in 1991 in Seattle at 69. Whiteman was quite the decorated veteran, with three battle stars, a Combat Badge and a Presidential Unit Badge with the 82nd Airborne Division to go along with his Purple Heart.
KATU reports, a note from the funeral home claimed he was an abandoned veteran, but Hurdy was able to track down the only living relative, Phyllis Lawson.
Lawson was Whiteman’s ex-sister-in-law. Lawson admitted she never got to know her ex-husband’s older brother, but could fill in a few details about the mysterious hero. He joined the rodeo as a young man and was featured in Life magazine for bull riding. He was even a stunt man in “The Way West,” an old western featuring Sally fields and Kirk Douglas.
Lawsom was very surprised to hear about the Purple Heart, an award Witeman shared with his own father. ABC discovered the Purple Heart was inherited by a nephew who stored some stuff with a friend where the trail ended until Hardy found it in the Arizona Goodwill.
Witeman’s Purple Heart is now on it’s way to Missouri to be mounted next to his father’s.