Do you know James W. Varden of Zephyrhills?
Purple Heart, No. 9415, with his name has been found at the History Center at the Pioneer Florida Museum & Village in Dade City.
The medal was donated to the center by M. R. Shaffer on Aug. 4, 1994, but no other information is known, including whether Varden was wounded or killed in battle.
Purple Hearts Reunited—a Vermont-based nonprofit organization—says the famous medals have been found in retirement homes, storage lockers, flea markets, abandoned houses, in old furniture and in vehicles.
As the nation’s oldest military medal, the Purple Heart was originally introduced as the Badge of Military Merit by George Washington.
With 2 million Purple Hearts bestowed to those wounded or killed in battle, “it’s easy to see how some of them are misplaced or lost over time,” according to a spokesman for Purple Hearts Reunited.
When a medal is found, this organization helps veterans to enroll in the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor.
When Purple Hearts Reunited finds a missing medal from its Lost Hearts Database, it conducts a return ceremony if possible.
The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States, wounded or killed, while serving in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Services.
Estimated Number of Purple Hearts
World War I: 320,518
World War II: 1,076,245
Korean War: 118,650
Vietnam War: 351,794
Persian Gulf War: 607
Afghanistan War: 12,534
Iraq War: 35,411
Source: National Geographic, 2009
Published December 14, 2022