NEW YORK — A lost Purple Heart medal is being returned to the family of a New York City sailor who died trying to rescue shipmates after his Navy vessel was attacked by a German submarine during World War II.

Ensign Rubin Keltch’s medal was given to his niece during a ceremony Friday at a Bronx park named for him.

The Vermont-based group Purple Hearts Reunited says a Vermont man found the medal in his father's collection of flea market purchases.

Keltch, a 24-year-old Brooklyn native, was aboard a Navy gunboat when it was hit by a torpedo off the Virginia coast in 1943. He helped save several shipmates but died when he entered the engine room to save others.

Ensign Rubin Keltch died while he was trying to save his fellow shipmates after a torpedo hit their Navy gunboat. (File)
Ensign Rubin Keltch died while he was trying to save his fellow shipmates after a torpedo hit their Navy gunboat. (File)

Keltch was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the military’s second-highest decoration for bravery.