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Illinois treasurer launches Operation Purple Heart

Illinois treasurer launches Operation Purple Heart

  • Updated

Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs launched Operation Purple Heart, a mission to return 11 Purple Heart medals to their rightful owners.

The military honors were submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office for safekeeping and return as part of the Unclaimed Property program, also known as I-Cash or missing money.

“These medals personify honor, sacrifice, and duty,” Frerichs said in a news release. “They belong in the loving care of families rather than hidden inside our cold basement vault.”

The treasurer’s office hopes attention to the upcoming Veterans Day celebrations and tributes will spark a memory or provide a clue so that these medals can be returned.

In an effort to find the rightful owners, the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office is releasing a limited amount of information that the owners or their relatives might recognize. A thorough vetting of inquiries will occur once an electronic claim is made at www.illinoistreasurer.gov/icash.

Last names and last known cities connected to the family that rented the safe deposit box containing the Purple Heart medal:

  • Cawthon, Received, Nov. 1, 1992, Portland, Oregon
  • Wilson, Received, Nov. 13, 1995, Chicago
  • Burns, Received, Nov. 5, 1997, Homewood
  • Moore, Received, Oct. 17, 2001, Peoria
  • Smith, Received, Nov. 18, 2002, Oak Park
  • Gorski, Received, Oct. 30, 2003, Darien
  • Tuttle, Received, Oct. 25, 2018, Decatur
  • Alexander, Received, Oct. 26, 2018, Channahon
  • Isbell or Shayer, Received, Oct. 31, 2018, Chicago
  • Steward or VanHasselaere, Received, Oct. 31, 2018, Round Lake
  • Wiest, Received, Oct. 23, 2019, O’Fallon

“Our ask is simple. If you recognize a name, and you know they lived in the city, then reach out to them because maybe we have their Purple Heart,” Frerichs said.

These honors were secured in a bank safe deposit box and untouched for several years before being submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office. Also, given mergers and acquisitions, it is possible the name of the bank changed throughout the years.

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