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A Purple Heart medal finds new home

Published: May. 4, 2021 at 8:45 AM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - After years of searching, a Purple Heart medal found abandoned in a Reno tow yard has finally been given a proper home, and the journey has brought closure to two people.

It’s a story more than 70 years in the making, but for Jim Johnson, it’s one he didn’t even know was his.

“It’s a whole new story,” he said. “It’s my side of the family I never knew.”

Johnson grew up knowing his birth father died in World War Two, but he was adopted by his mother’s sister and says he never felt the need to know too much more about his father.

That is until he learned that stranger who helped give him life had a Purple Heart medal awarded to him, and that the medal had been found abandoned in Reno.

“No, I did not know this,” He said. “I did not know he had a Purple Heart, I didn’t know his side of the family until this. I just knew my father from the picture that my biological mother had given me.”

And the man who has guarded the medal for more than two years is also feeling a sense of closure.

“It gave me a sense of accomplishment, you know?” Howard ‘Mac’ McField said. “Just the fact that I was able to get this medal to, to the rightful owner, and get it back to him and we can close this chapter.”

The two met face-to-face for the first time Monday as the medal was given to Johnson. It may be the end of one journey, but the start of another as Johnson now has a part of the father who was fated to be a stranger to him.

“Feel like it’s now been finished,” Johnson said. “It’s still just something that gives me a feeling that I have another part of me, so to speak. I have something with his name on it. And that’s important to me. It now represents him. Yeah, it was nice to have this picture but now I have something that really was his.”

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