A Purple Heart spinning around on a baggage claim at a California airport caught the attention of a veteran, sparking a social media campaign that finally got the medal to the hero’s family on Tuesday.
The medal wasn’t in a case, but a name was inscribed: Army Infantryman Miguel A. Perez Loubriel.
“He passed away at 23 years old in the line of duty, Korean War, in 1952,” Sonoma County Airport Marketing Specialist Gina Stocker told Fox 2.
“The person who found it is a veteran, and we have two other veterans who work for us,” Airport Operations Supervisor Matt Yeager said. “That person served our country and being a veteran, I understand and appreciate that importance.”
Airport staff got to work right away tracking down the soldier’s family after spotting the medal two weeks ago. Stocker put out the word on social media, getting more than 100,000 hits on Facebook.
Finally, the soldier’s relatives stepped forward. His daughter, Leyda Aviles, said she’d keep the medal with her every day, KGO reported.
“I am grateful all the way to the sky because you do not find things like that every day,” Aviles said. She said she did not know how the Purple Heart got out of a box with other medals.
Aviles also said her father died on the day she was born. He had been enlisted for only 10 months, Fox 2 added.
Attached to the medal was a photograph of a list showing other Puerto Ricans who died fighting in the Korean War for the U.S.