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Local Military Family Reunites With Precious Medal

A Purple Heart presented to a WWII heads back to its rightful owners thanks to great teamwork in the community.
“I was dumb founded,” said Suzanne Monroe, niece of Purple Heart recipient.

Suzanne Monroe of Visalia is talking about the recent phone call she received saying her uncle's Purple Heart medal had been recovered.

10 years ago, it mysteriously disappeared.

“It was one of the few things that we had left of him so we were very upset,” said Monroe.

The medal was awarded to Army Private First Class Norval Monroe.  The 26-year old was killed in France during WWII then later buried in a Tulare County cemetery.

Flash ahead to 2007, Monroe’s missing medal resurfaced in a Tulare pawn shop.

“Someone had pawned the purple heart after finding it in a dumpster,” said Andy Wahrenbrock.
     
Vietnam Veteran Andy Wahrenbrock says his friend purchased it in hopes of one day putting it in a museum.

“It just never came to pass, so we've been babysitting it for 5 or 6 years,” said Wahrenbrock.

Wahrenbrock contacted ken Hooper who is a teacher at Bakersfield High School.  Students in his R.O.T.C. Archiving Class were tasked with trying to track down Monroe’s family.  Sure enough, they did.

“It makes me happy that I can actually help somebody get back something important to the family,” said Jenna Simms, a Bakersfield High School student.

Suzanne appreciates it and says the medal will never get lost again.

“It's going someplace very safe,” said Monroe.

The Purple Heart will be delivered to the Monroe family Tuesday afternoon at the Kern Veterans Memorial in Bakersfield.

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