Purple Heart Found in Garbage Reunited with Family


After five years of being homeless, Jeff Drury and his wife were finally getting back on their feet.

With a baby on the way, the couple had been gifted an RV to live in. But while they were cleaning out trash to make the vehicle livable, Jeff stumbled upon a decades-old purple heart medal inside.

The medal took him completely by surprise, and he had absolutely no idea where it had come from.

“I ended up finding the Purple Heart sitting on the dinette table,” Drury said. When he showed his wife, she immediately knew how important it was.

“My father was in the Army and it’s a generation of Army veterans, Navy veterans,” she said.

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“Right off the bat I recognized what that was. I have family members who have been in the military,” Jeff added.

“Heirlooms are important to my wife and I. We lost five children already so heirlooms and memories attached to them are very important,” he said.

Drury quickly posted an image of the medal to Facebook, and within hours, they received a response.


The Purple Heart had belonged to Derral Tarrance, a Korean War veteran who passed away in Utah in 2011.

Vivian Frederick, Derral’s step-daughter, couldn’t believe it had been found.

“I was shocked, last week, to get a phone call from my niece saying ‘can you go pick up the medal? It’s in Oregon.’ and I’m like ‘how did it get to Oregon?’” she said.

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Derral’s daughter Cindy Dempsey explained that a few months earlier, the Purple Heart, along with their father’s urn and American flag, had been stolen from their mother’s house.

The Drurys set up a meeting with Vivian to return the medal, and finally, Derral’s family had an important memory returned to them.

“It was like having a piece of my dad returned,” Vivan said. “It’s a violation to lose the urn and so many other pieces, so to have this returned to our family… we’re all really happy.”

“How serendipitous that I’m getting this medal back on Memorial Day, or close to it,” she added. “And this acknowledgement of a hero in war is making its journey back on a day that’s remembering our heroes and he most definitely was my hero.”

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Liz was a senior story editor for The Western Journal.
Liz was a senior story editor for The Western Journal.
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