ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. -- A Purple Heart found in Central Nyack has been returned to its rightful owner.
Senator Chuck Schumer presented the once-missing Purple Heart to the family of Bernard McNamara, a World War II veteran on Sunday. The Purple Heart was found in the dirt on West Broadway and contained no information other than that it belonged to someone by the name of "B.J. McNamara on Dec. 9, 1943.'
“It is a privilege and an honor to return this Purple Heart to the family of decorated World War II veteran, Bernard J. McNamara,” said Schumer. “McNamara was a true American hero and put his life on the line to serve this country. It’s unfortunate that the medal has gone missing for so long but I am humbled to have the opportunity to present it to the McNamara family.
Schumer said finding the McNamara family was a case of "Nancy Drew detective work." More than 1,000 people named McNamara served in World War II, and dozens with the initials B.J.
Schumer’s office was able to track down McNamara, only to find out he passed away in 1975. The medal was presented to his two children and two grandchildren.
McNamara was injured as result of German Artillery fires during a defensive stand at Monte Sammurco. In 1994, he was captured by Nazi Germany while serving in Italy and was imprisoned for at least 472 days, according to the Red Cross.
The medal was given to children in the family to play with when it was lost. It may have ended up in Rockland because they had relatives in Nanuet, Schumer's office said.
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