Thrift shops can be wonderful conduits for charitable giving opportunities. In 2015, the charity proceeds from the sale of donated goods to thrift stores exceeded $2.5 million, which went to support local, national, and even international charities. Every once in a while, however, something is found inside a thrift shop that isn’t donated, but rather returned to its original, and well deserved, owner.
More than 70 years after the end of World War II, a Purple Heart medal earned by a soldier that was killed in combat is finally on its way home.
According to KVUE, the whereabouts of Private First Class Johnnie Olsen’s medal was unknown for decades, until April 2017 when it turned up in a thrift shop near Ft. Lewis, Washington. Another veteran, Brandon Beaver, found the Purple Heart listed for just $15.
“I located a Purple Heart in a display case,” Beaver stated. “When I first saw it, I knew exactly what it was. I contacted him since he wasn’t there and said ‘hey I need to take this and find the family for it.”
Ann Olsen, the niece of Private Olsen, was ecstatic that Beaver reached out to her family.
“Amazement, absolute amazement,” Ann said, referring to the moment she received the phone call that the Purple Heart had been found. “I’m not a crier, but it actually brought tears to my eyes.”
After locating the medal, Beaver posted a picture on a veterans social media page in hopes of finding the Olsen family.
“Purple Hearts aren’t necessarily given out every day,” Beaver added. “They’re given out for bravery and sacrifice to your country… if somebody passed away because of a Purple Heart… it needs to go back to the family.”
K5 reports that Ann never actually met her “Uncle Johnnie,” but has heard for decades about how proud her family was of him and how wonderful a person he truly was.
“This, to me, speaks to the warrior’s ethos,” Ann added. “‘Never leave a fallen comrade?’ I feel like they are bringing part of Johnnie home.”