Grand Rapids – Three Michigan families have been returned a missing relic their deceased relatives earned while fighting in World War II: their Purple Heart medals.

The three medals were given to their rightful owners Tuesday during a ceremony in Grand Rapids. The organization Purple Hearts Reunited coordinated the return of the long lost medals to the families of Army Staff Sgt. Marinum Gillesse, and Pvts. James Nameth Jr. and Clayton Richard.

Gillesse was wounded in action and died in 2003, and Nameth and Richard were both killed in action. Gillesse’s brother, William Gillesse, accepted the medals with Nameth’s niece, Michelle Nameth McNulty, and Richard’s nephew, Dennis Richard.

Purple Hearts Reunited tracked down the medals and purchased them off Ebay, Etsy and from a private collector. The nonprofit says it’s returned 450 medals since 2012.

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