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WWII medal of Nebraska man found in Vermont

May. 10, 2014 - 10:45AM   |  
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MILTON, VT. — A World War II service medal belonging to a Nebraska man could be on its way soon to the man's son after it was found along with a number of unrelated medals hidden in a tree in Milton.

No one knows how the medals ended up in a VCR cassette and wrapped in plastic or how long they had been there before they were found on Green Up Day, May 3.

In addition to the 1945 good conduct medal of Richard Gene Woody, there were commemorative coins, a Veterans of Foreign Wars medal from the 1930s, a Spanish American War medal, a woman's Relief Corps medal and a Civil War pay stub for Pvt. Lewis N. Lucas, of the Vermont 2nd Light Artillery.

Milton police were put in touch with Zachariah Fike, of Georgia, the founder of the group Purple Hearts Reunited, an organization that returns medals to servicemen and woman or their families.

"I think these were stolen items," Fike said Friday. "These were items that a collector had picked up over time."

Fike found Woody's son, Myron Gene Woody in Sidney, Nebraska. Myron Woody didn't know how the medals would have ended up in Vermont, but he thought his father, who served 30 years in the Navy, was once stationed in Maine, Fike said.

Robert Woody died in 1982, Fike said.

Milton Police Officer Frank Scalise said it was unlikely police would ever learn where the medals came from.

"More than likely it will be us getting in touch with the recipient's son and arranging to send that medal out to him," Scalise said.

The other medals will most likely be turned over to Fike, Scalise said.

Fike's organization, Purple Hearts Reunited, works across the country to return service medals to the original recipients or their families. While the organization is based in Vermont, the medals found in Milton marked the first time he'd found any in his home state.

"I have to say, Vermonters are really good at not losing things," Fike said.

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