Last month, a Pennsylvania man received a cryptic call from an unknown woman asking him about his long-deceased grandfather. When Jeff Hertzog picked up the phone, however, he had no idea he was talking to a distant relative of his own.
“The first thing she asked me was ‘do you happen to know your grandfather’s name on your father’s side’,” Jeff said. “‘Yes,’ I said, ‘Webster E. Hertzog.'”
As it turns out, Jeff was speaking to his late grandfather’s niece Edie via her own daughter Dawn, neither of whom he’d never known. Edie still had Jeff’s grandfather’s purple heart in her possession from when he died in battle during World War II over 75 years ago.
Edie, now in her 80s, wanted to pass on the purple heart to Jeff if possible. Dawn helped find him using social media and ancestry tools.
A Dusty Old Heirloom Reunites Far Corners of a Family
“[Dawn] proceeded to say ‘did you happen to know that he got a purple heart when he died in Belgium’,” Jeff said. The group then get together the very next day. “Edie handed it to me and it was just, I mean she broke down and cried. It was such an honor. It was such a kind gesture that I will never be able to repay or forget.”
Edie told Jeff that she was just a child when two men came to deliver the message that Webster died and to present the family with his purple heart. Now 78 years, later the newly-reunited Hertzog family is planning a Memorial Day picnic together for May.
“In his letter he had mentioned that he was doing fine,” Jeff said of his grandfather’s final letter from Europe, kept in the family for generations. “He was doing well, but he could not wait for the war to be over so he could have wieners and beer. Hot dogs and beer.”
Webster would die three days later after writing the letter. Jeff said the purple heart will proudly stay in the family for years to come.
“I know my dad would feel very proud that I have it.”
A New York City Man Loses His Purple Heart During a Robbery
In the Harlem borough of New York City, a 91-year-old man and Korean War veteran lost his purple heart in an armed robbery recently. According to victim Walter White, two men knocked on his apartment door, then pulled a gun.
“It was just one of ’em things,” White stated. “I opened my door for this guy and come to find I have a .38 in my face.”
Though he lost his cell phone, money, and his purple heart, White’s encounter may have been a blessing in disguise. The elderly man was living without much furniture or creature comforts; but thanks to a GoFundMe and support from local charities thanks to the press he received, White now owns a new bedroom set, phone, kitchen equipment, and everyday essentials.
White said he is humbled and honored by the effort; and that he doesn’t harbor ill-will against the thieves.
“I hope they do some good with the money they got with me,” White said.