RALEIGH, N.C. – A North Carolina man is getting his Purple Heart back, almost 70 years after he mailed it home and never saw it again.
Ninety-year-old George Hemphill will receive his Purple Heart medal in a ceremony today in Rutherfordton. Hemphill got the award for his fighting in 1944 during World War II in France.
He mailed it home and never asked about it again.
A man bought Hemphills Purple Heart in October 2000 in an antique store in Columbia, S.C. He held on to it until a friend put him in touch with Purple Hearts Reunited.
Im just flabbergasted, Hemphill said. I dont know what to think.
Capt. Zachariah Fike of Burlington, Vt., who runs the nonprofit Purple Hearts Reunited, will present the award, along with a Bronze Star that Hemphill never knew the military had granted him.
Fike has returned 20 of the awards since he started Purple Hearts Reunited in 2009. Sunday will mark the first time he has reunited a Purple Heart with a living recipient.