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Replacement found for Purple Heart stolen from war hero memorial

Purple Heart medal (Ed Passi/Flickr)
October 30, 2020

A Purple Heart medallion stolen from the Oregon Fallen War Heroes Memorial in Don Jones Memorial Park in August will be replaced.

A new medallion, intended to honor wounded and fallen veterans in the U.S. military, will likely be ready sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to Matt Samitore, Central Point parks and public works director.

“We were trying to find a foundry that could actually produce one, because it’s very unique,” Samitore said.

A foundry based in Sanford, Florida, will make the piece, according to Central Point park planner Dave Jacob. The $3,850 cost will be paid by the Central Point Parks & Recreation Foundation using funds for maintenance of the memorial.

A dedication ceremony is planned for Memorial Day, according to Keith Wittnebel of the Department of Oregon Military Order of the Purple Heart.

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“It’s wonderful. I just wish they could have found the original one, but I’m really glad they could find someone to do it, make a new one,” Wittnebel said. “Hopefully it’ll stay there now (and) nobody will mess with it again.”

Central Point police learned of the theft Aug. 3 after a city public works employee noticed it was missing.

The Central Point Parks & Recreation website describes the Fallen War Heroes Memorial as a “comprehensive remembrance of the citizens of Oregon lost in the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I & II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm and the Iraq War.”

The Purple Heart is the oldest U.S. military distinction soldiers still receive. The medallion honoring recipients had previously been attached by epoxy, Samitore said. Police have not made any arrests in the case, and no new information was available.

“We haven’t gotten anything viable,” said Central Point police Capt. David Croft.

City parks officials hope to install additional lighting and a security camera at the memorial when the new medallion is installed, Samitore said. Budget discussions on those additions won’t start until 2021.

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(c) 2020 the Mail Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.