Ten years after two men discovered that their dog, Smuckers, had a dug up a Purple Heart in the backyard of their Stapleton, Colorado, home, the medal is on its way back into the hands of the recipient’s only living relative.
Steve Jankousky said he was simply returning dirt to the hole his dog had dug when he saw something shiny. Jankousy was shocked when he realized it was a Purple Heart. Although it had been buried, the medal appeared to be in good condition and the name engraved on the back could still be read: Corporal Richmond Litman.
Jankousky said he and Tom Unterwagner had held onto the medal for about ten years, unsure how to get it where it rightfully belonged, but the men recently came across Purple Hearts Reunited, a non-profit based out of Vermont which, as the name implies, works to help lost military medals of all types make their way back to their rightful owners.
The organization’s founder, Zachariah Fike said they typically receive three to five medals a week, and stories like these, although mysterious, are quite common. It’s unknown how the medal ended up in the Stapleton suburb backyard, but records indicate that Litman once lived in another area of Denver.
Fike learned that Cpl. Litman served in the Korean War and earned the Purple Heart in 1950. Fike also discovered that Litman, as well as his wife, Ida, were both deceased. However, news of the lost medal spread and eventually led to the discovery of Litman’s step-daughter, who was raised by him. She will receive the medal during a ceremony Sunday.