A Purple Heart medal that was lost 25 years ago has been returned to the family of a Colorado war veteran — and all thanks to a dog called Smuckers.
The Labrador / Golden Retriever mix dug up the military award in her owners’ backyard in Denver back in 2004 and this weekend, the Purple Heart was reunited with the family of its recipient, Korean War veteran Richmond L. Litman.
Tied to Smuckers’ collar, he medal was presented to Litman’s daughter, Leatra Plick, in a ceremony held at Fort Logan National Cemetery, where the veteran is buried. (Scroll down for the video.)
1. A dog dug up a Purple Heart medal that was lost 25 years ago has now been returned to the family of a Colorado war veteran (image: Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post).
It’s a miracle… it’s a God-sent miracle.
The medal was mysteriously lost about 25 years ago. Then the dog dug it up in the backyard of the Dexter Street home of her owners, Steve Jankousky and Tom Unterwagner, in 2004. However, it would take 11 years for the medal to eventually find its way back to the Litman family.
Hoping to find the veteran who lost the medal or his family, Jankousky and Unterwagner called several people with the last name Litman, but with no success.
2. A digging dog unearths a Purple Heart mystery — an USA Today report.
Then 11 years later, they saw an article about a Vermont group called Purple Hearts Reunited and contacted its founder, combat-wounded veteran Zachariah Fike.
Within 24 hours after a story about the medal appeared on the website, Plick called Fike to claim it. She said:
I will honor it as much as he honored it when he was alive. I truly appreciate it from the bottom of my heart.
Litman enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1948 and was wounded on September 18, 1950, in South Korea. How the medal ended up buried in a yard four blocks from his home remains unknown.
3. A Purple Heart found by a dog, returned to the veteran’s family.
Read more: Purple Hearts Reunited.
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