Veteran's son pleads for return of stolen Purple Heart medal

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A St. Paul man is asking for the public's help to find his father's Purple Heart medal, which was taken from his home over the weekend.

Paul Reyburn filed a police report early Sunday morning regarding the theft, but he hopes getting the word out will help get the medal back. He says it has sentimental value and is one of the only mementos he has of his father, who died in 2000, Reyburn told BringMeTheNews.

Reyburn returned to his home this weekend to find it was broken into, according to a post on Facebook. His wife's jewelry, some DVDS, and beef jerky sticks were among the items taken, but he's most upset about his father's Purple Heart, which was in its case on Reyburn's nightstand.

His father, Warren Reyburn (pictured at left with his wife), was an Alamo Scout stationed in the Philippines during World War II. Paul Reyburn doesn't know the specifics of what led to his father being honored with the medal because he didn't like to talk about the war.

Although Purple Hearts have a lot of sentimental value, they have also become popular collectibles. Medals from World War II can fetch $300 to $400, NBC News reported.

Collectors say many of the Purple Hearts they find at flea markets, pawn shops or antique stores are either thrown out or sold by the recipient's family.

Others – such as the nonprofit Purple Hearts Reunited which works to return lost medals to soldiers' families – say the medals that turn up in stores or markets are lost, misplaced or sometimes stolen. Since the organization was founded in 2012, it has located and returned over 100 medals.

As for Reyburn's medal, there is no suspect information on who may have taken it from the Burns Avenue home. Paul Reyburn says police believe the suspect or suspects must have been wearing gloves because they couldn't find any finger prints. He did say investigators took the wrappers from the stolen beef jerky sticks, which were scattered in the living room, to see if they could get any clues from those.

The incident was among 13 reported burglaries over the weekend in St. Paul's eastern district, according to St. Paul police on Facebook. It hasn't been said if any of the incidents are related, however.

There have been an estimated 2 million Purple Hearts awarded in U.S. history to members of the armed forces who were wounded or killed in action, according to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, which collects and preserves stories of medal recipients.

The Military Order of the Purple Heart noted 962,403 World War II veterans have received the medal.

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