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Misplaced Purple Heart Found in Houston Given to Family

Updated: Tuesday, July 29 2014, 12:36 PM CDT

A Houston man found a fallen soldier's Purple Heart and set out to return the medal to that man's family. And within a week, the medal has found its way home!

James Austin found the Purple Heart at the home of a friend who collects items from storage shed auctions. "And he has a lot of stuff there.  He had no clue.  He just knew it was there," said Austin.

The name "Sandolio Alvarez" was inscribed on the medal. Our sister station in Houston, KHOU, did some checking and learned Alvarez was  a Florida native who served in the Army during World War Two.  He was killed in action a few weeks after his 21st birthday.

So the story of the misplaced medal hit the airwaves and the Internet, and a KHOU viewer contacted Alvarez's family, in Florida.

Alvarez's 74-year-old niece, JoAnn Alvarez Register, lives in Tampa.  "His remains were never returned to us," she says. She only has one picture with her Uncle Sandolio, she was just a small child at the time." He played the guitar and he sung a lot of Spanish songs," Register says.

She has Alvarez's last letter her wrote home from Burma. In it, he told his family not to worry, and that God would bring him back safely. "’ve read that letter so many times and it’s so touching," Register says.

She was even more touched by what happened next. Austin shipped that medal to her, and, even got a chance to tell her why. "When I found it, I knew it didn’t belong where it was.  And I knew that someone would be out there waiting for it," said Austin. "Unbelievable.  He’s coming home," said Register. 

Misplaced Purple Heart Found in Houston Given to Family


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