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Purple Heart found in landfill to be reunited with family

Posted at 6:26 PM, Mar 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-29 19:26:28-04

CANEY, Kansas -- Going through trash at the landfill isn't always a glamorous job.

But for one man in Caney it led to a surprising discovery.

"I was just cleaning out the box and getting stuff out I wasn't supposed to have in there and that box caught my eye. So I picked it up to see what it was and it was a purple heart," Maurice Benton said.

Benton turned it in to his father, a Navy veteran who served in the Vietnam War and owns the landfill. Gary Gorby said he immediately felt a connection with this Purple Heart owner: 19-year-old Leo Farris Jr.

"You graduate from high school and you're shipped off to war. You have a bond with every other veteran there. You rely on them to cover your back," Gorby said.

He passed along the information to the Havana Veteran's Association, where veteran David Noland learned Farris died in the Battle of Bulge.

"He hadn't even had his 20th birthday. Hadn't been in the service nine months... and gave his life for our country," Noland said.

The three men said finding the Purple Heart seemed to happen by more than just chance. They believe they were meant to carry on the veteran's legacy.

"Within 24 hours we had a name and a number. That's unusual. Some of them are never found," Noland said.

His family was found in Kansas, and the veterans are driving up to Wichita on Saturday to reunite the medal with his great niece. They tell us taps will play, and they don't expect a dry eye in the house.

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