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(S.D.)-Sturgis Man Reunited With Uncle's Missing Purple Heart

By: Kevin Larsen Posted at: 08/06/2014 02:44 PM

(Sturgis)-KOTA Territory News is reporting that a Purple Heart medal found in the ashes of a burned down trailer has been returned to its rightful owner. Tom Maples was presented with his uncle's Purple Heart medal Tuesday afternoon at the Veteran Appreciation ceremony in Sturgis.
The Purple Heart belonged to Harry "Bill" Bessler, a World War II bomber pilot. He was missing in action for a year until he was found with his plane.
Maples says his uncle sacrificed his life so others could live. "I never got to really know him but through stories that were told and everything he was always my hero," said Maples. "Now through this he is definitely my hero."
Purple Heart Reunited is the organization that recovered the medal that was found in Kessler's wife's burned down home. Purple Heart Reunited organizers locate lost or stolen military medals and return them to veterans or their families.  
Capt. Zarariah Fike, founder of Purple Heart Reunited, says Purple Hearts need to be with their rightful owners. Since Purple Hearts Reunited was established in 2012, 100 medals have been returned.


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