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Husband and wife private detective couple reunite Purple Heart to missing WWII sailor’s family

Husband and wife private detectives ‘do some sleuthing’ and reunite Purple Heart to missing WWII sailor’s delighted family after it was accidentally donated to Goodwill

  • Tucson, Arizona Goodwill employee Talon Mills found the Purple Heart in a box of housewares while sorting through donations in mid-June
  • The military medal was awarded to U.S. Navy sailor Nick D’Amelio, Jr. who went missing in 1942 after his ship was sunk by Japanese destroyers during WWII
  • Goodwill reached out to the non-profit group Purple Hearts Reunited on July 8 to try and find D’Amelio’s family
  • Private detectives with Black Horse Investigations saw a story about the medal and located D’Amelio’s relatives on Tuesday
  • Family members, including D’Amelio’s great nephew, Doug Hanna, traveled to the Tucson Goodwill store to pick up the medal on Friday 

U.S. Navy sailor Nick D’Amelio Jr.’s Purple Heart was returned to WWII vet’s family after it was found at a Goodwill store in June

The family of a Purple Heart recipient who went missing during WWII traveled to a Tucson, Arizona Goodwill store Friday to pick up the vet’s distinguished medal a month after an employee there found it while sorting through donations.

Talon Mills, the Goodwill employee, received a certificate from U.S. Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz) during a ceremony at the store Friday as relatives of U.S. Navy sailor Nick D’Amelio Jr. looked on and applauded.

‘This is an amazing day. It’s a wonderful story. It’s so great to see that this is now home. And it really took this whole community coming together and doing their part in order to make this happen,’ McSally said at the gathering.  

The U.S. military declared D’Amelio lost at sea a year after his ship, the USS Little, was sank by Japanese destroyers near Guadalcanal on September 5, 1942.

It’s unclear how the Purple Heart engraved with his name ended up in a box of housewares at Mills’ store.

 

Talon Mills, the Goodwill employee, received a certificate from U.S. Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz) during a ceremony at the store Friday as relatives of U.S. Navy sailor Nick D'Amelio Jr. looked on and applauded

Talon Mills, the Goodwill employee, received a certificate from U.S. Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz) during a ceremony at the store Friday as relatives of U.S. Navy sailor Nick D’Amelio Jr. looked on and applauded

Mills and U.S. Sen. Martha McSalley (R-Ariz) pose for pictures with other Goodwill employees, private detectives with Black Horse Investigations and the family of Nick D'Amelio Jr.

Mills and U.S. Sen. Martha McSalley (R-Ariz) pose for pictures with other Goodwill employees, private detectives with Black Horse Investigations and the family of Nick D’Amelio Jr. 

The U.S. military declared D'Amelio (pictured) lost at sea a year after his ship, the USS Little, was sank by Japanese destroyers near Guadalcanal on September 5, 1942

The U.S. military declared D’Amelio (pictured) lost at sea a year after his ship, the USS Little, was sank by Japanese destroyers near Guadalcanal on September 5, 1942

 

Goodwill reached out to the non-profit Purple Hearts Reunited on July 8 to try and find D’Amelio’s family.

Husband and wife private detectives Emilio and Rianne Maldonado with a Tuscon-based company called Black Horse Investigations saw the story and did some sleuthing before showing up at the home of the seaman’s relatives Tuesday afternoon.

‘They arrived at my family’s doorstep saying, “We believe we know that this is yours,”‘ D’Amelio’s great nephew, Doug Hanna, told reporters during the Friday ceremony at the Tuscon Goodwill store.

Hanna paid homage to Mills for understanding the significance of the Purple Heart and taking the steps to ensure it was returned to D’Amelio’s family. 

Talon Mills

Private detectives Rianne (left) and Emilio Maldonado (right) pose for a picture with U.S. Sen. Martha McSalley (R-Ariz)

Mills (letft) found D’Amelio’s Purple Heart in a box of housewares while sorting through donations in mid-June. Private detectives Rianne Maldonado and her husband, Emilio, with Black Horse Investigations, seen posing for pictures on either side of U.S. Sen. Martha McSalley (right), tracked down D’Amelio’s relatives on Tuesday

Family members, including D'Amelio's great nephew, Doug Hanna, traveled to the Tucson Goodwill store to pick up the medal on Friday

Family members, including D’Amelio’s great nephew, Doug Hanna, traveled to the Tucson Goodwill store to pick up the medal on Friday

‘Without his first initial steps, this family treasure and national treasure would have been lost forever,’ he said.

Mills told KGUN he’s just happy he could help get the accolade back where it belongs.

‘I don’t know, maybe it could have just got swept up under the rug somewhere,’ he said. ‘And they never really would have gotten the opportunity to find it and reconect with that.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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