MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – It took six-decades, a yard sale, and a stranger to bring a purple heart, into the hands of an Alabama Korean War Veteran.
It was a year ago when Kimberly Paller of North Carolina found an unexpected treasure at a yard sale.
“I got about halfway through the box of books and found the Purple Heart case.”
That purple heart belonged to Lt. Henry A. Schenk.
In Korea, Lt. Schenk saved a man’s life. That man was actor and author James McEachin.
For over 60 years now, McEachin has been searching for Lt. Schenk.
“The search had kind of waned because I didn’t feel like I was going to catch the guy anyway and then you fall on the idea; “if God wanted it to happen, it would happen.”
But Kimberly made a connection after a little research.
“I found out that if the soldier was killed in action they will engrave his name on the back of it.”
Kimberly knew she had to find the rightful owners.
“The first thing that came up was James McEachin searching for this man,”
So she called him.
He was was blown away.
“James picked up right away and started yelling at me; “what are you talking about? This can’t be! Are you sure? Are you sure it’s spelled right? A few times he had to hang up. He said it was too much, it’s too emotional and would have to call back.”
McEachin explains, “I couldn’t talk to her and I said I’m going to have to call you back, which I did. I think I called her back three times. We’ve got to start feeling good about ourselves. We’ve got to start having respect for each other and admire each other. We’ve got to pay tribute to the country and we’ve got to thank god for our blessings that we have here and remember the veterans, no veterans, no democracy, no democracy no America.”
McEachin says now that he has the medal he’s more determined than ever to find Lt. Schenk’s family and return it to them.
A Birmingham soldier is also back in possession, of a long lost medal. The Helena Police Department recovered the Bronze Star, following a burglary bust, last week.
They posted a picture on their facebook page, trying to find Sgt. Michael Cooner. And the power of social media prevailed! Sergeant Cooner wrote on the Helena Police Department’s facebook page, “Long time no see! Un-real. My most gratitude to everyone at Helena Police Department, for recovering this, and going to such great lengths, to return it to me.”