Lost Purple Heart Returned to Family of Local Marine Killed in World War II

A once-lost Purple Heart and other medals belonging to a U.S. Marine killed during World War II were presented Friday to his surviving relatives in Lake Elsinore.

Representatives from Purple Hearts Reunited conducted the 15-minute return ceremony at the home of Nolan McKinney's nephew, 62-year-old Rocky Snider, whose family joined him in accepting his uncle's recovered decorations.

McKinney was a private first class serving on Guadalcanal, attempting to dislodge the Japanese, when he was killed on Nov. 22, 1942, according to Purple Hearts Reunited. His remains were never recovered.

The 18-year-old native of Boone County, Arkansas, was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Combat Action Ribbon and American Defense Medal.

The medals turned up at a Goodwill Store in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where a clerk set them aside and turned them over to Michael Azeltine, commander of a local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

Azeltine then contacted Purple Hearts Reunited, and the Georgia, Vermont-based nonprofit subsequently arranged Friday's return ceremony.

According to organizers, McKinney's is among more than 350 medals that Purple Hearts Reunited has recovered to date. Over 150 return ceremonies have been conducted.

The ceremony honoring McKinney was one of four this week in Southern California.

Purple Hearts Reunited has been in operation since July 2012, when it was founded by Vermont National Guard Capt. Zach Fike, who received a Purple Heart following a deployment to Afghanistan in 2010.

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