Heartwarming: Purple Heart returned to family 76 years after soldier’s death

The kin of a World War II soldier just had his lost Purple Heart returned to them — 76 years after his death.

“I feel tremendously happy for my family. To have this come back into the family means a lot,” said Kirt Ashman, the nephew of hero Cpl. Edward J. Ryan, to Click2Houston.

Ryan, 22, was killed March 27, 1945, when an artillery shell hit his tank in The Netherlands.

He was posthumously awarded the medal, but it disappeared.

The award was only just recently found again — in the hidden compartment of a metal box 20 miles from Ryan’s Minnesota home, according to Purple Hearts Reunited, a nonprofit organization that returns lost medals to service members’ families.

The organization tracked down Ashman, who identified the medal as having been awarded to his uncle.

“To the two gentlemen who found it, my family is just extremely grateful for it,” said Ashman, who received the medal in a ceremony Saturday.

Ryan's Purple heart was found in a metal box approximately 20 miles from his home.
Ryan’s Purple heart was found in a metal box approximately 20 miles from his home.

Ryan was one of more than a million US service members awarded the Purple Heart in WWII. It is awarded to those Americans who have been wounded or killed in service to the country and has been in circulation since 1932.

To date, Purple Hearts Reunited has returned more than 850 medals to service members’ families, Operations Director Erin Faith Allen said.


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