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Subject: Purple Heart medal of dead serviceman found in Tucson Goodwill, but effort by employee found family to bring it home. …

Arizona Republic
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Date Posted: Sunday, July 14, 03:00:14pm

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Purple Heart medal of dead serviceman found in Tucson Goodwill,
but effort by employee found family to bring it home. …

Angel Mendoza / Arizona Republic
July 11, 2019

A Purple Heart medal that was mistakenly donated to a Tucson Goodwill will be returned to the family of its original recipient.

Goodwill Industries of Southern Arizona posted about the misplaced medal of honor on its Facebook page on Monday. By Thursday, Goodwill had successfully tracked down the family the medal belonged to, and they'll be at the store on Friday to retrieve it.

The medal was awarded posthumously to Nick D'Amelio Jr., a seaman second class who was declared missing in action after his ship sank during World War II, according to military records.

Sen. Martha McSally, who served in the U.S. Air Force and lives in Tucson, confirmed to The Republic that she will also be present as D'Amelio's family receives the medal.

"I am honored to help reunify this Purple Heart with Nick D'Amelio Jr.'s (family). We can never do enough for those who served us — especially for the family members of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” McSally said.

Nick D'Amelio was killed in WWII action aboard ship sunk in 1943 South Pacific. …

Finding the family
Douglas Hanna, the great nephew of Nick D'Amelio Jr., told The Republic that Friday's reunification will all be thanks to “two different coordinated efforts from different parts of the country.”

Hanna said Purple Hearts Reunited and the Tucson-based firm Black Horse Investigations worked independently to track down his family.

At around the same time, both parties contacted Hanna's mother, Laudonio, who then called Hanna and asked her to drive over so they could "talk about a situation."

“So obviously, fearing the worst, I headed over there expecting bad news," he said.

The news was anything but.

Hanna's family were to receive something of great worth that could have easily been lost: His great uncle's Purple Heart.
The family talked over how the medal could've been misplaced. D' Amelio's sister, Louise, likely had the medal in her pocket. After she passed away, her belongings were returned in placed in a closet in her room, Hanna wrote in a message to The Republic.

"After some time, the family went through the clothes, furniture, and other belongings which were ultimately donated to Goodwill to help others," Hanna wrote. "Unknowingly, the medal was in a pocket of clothing and went undetected during the move and donation process.

Hanna credited Talon Mills — a Goodwill employee who found the medal in a donation box — for having "the integrity, respect and the morals" to make sure the medal was reunited with its rightful family.

"Knowing... the significance of what a purple heart is — and making sure that this purple heart got back to its family, that speak volumes of his character, and we are definitely indebted to that,” he said.

The goodwill of everyone involved in the Purple Heart's return — and, of course, the power of social media — has helped keep this memory of his great uncle's service alive," Hanna said.

"If it were not for the dedication and diligence of the Goodwill employees, and Investigators, this family's piece of history may have been lost forever."

Reach reporter Angel Mendoza at amendoza@gannett.com or on Twitter @angelmendozaAZC.

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