One Illinois veteran's family just had a Purple Heart award he earned returned to them, but many more are still waiting. Can you help locate 10 more Illinois veterans who have lost the awards they so richly deserve?

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Operation Purple Heart is an effort by the state of Illinois to return these sacred awards to those who have served our country. The family of Army Specialist Kenneth R. Wiest who earned his Purple Heart during the Vietnam War just received his medals which had been found in a safety deposit box in a ceremony recently.

In a press release, the Illinois State Treasurer shared 10 more veterans who they're trying to locate:

  • Robert Cawthon, submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Nov. 1, 1992, from Fifth Third Bank in Oak Park. There is conflicting information about where Robert lived. Information suggests the awardee was in the infantry.
  • Raymond Wilson, submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Nov. 13, 1995. Raymond lived in Chicago and banked with Chicago Community Bank, which subsequently was sold.
  • Lawrence M. Burns, submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Nov. 5, 1997. Lawrence lived in Homewood and banked with Advanced Bank in Homewood. Information also suggests a financial relationship with Homewood Federal Savings and Loan. Today, there is information to suggest Mr. Burns chooses to live in a remote area in California.
  • Linda K. Moore, submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Oct. 17, 2001. Linda lived in Peoria and banked with National City Bank in Peoria, which subsequently was sold. Information suggests a relationship with John L. Moore.
  • Bernice Smith, submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Nov. 18, 2002. Bernice lived in Oak Park and banked with MB Financial Bank in Oak Park. The bank subsequently was sold.
  • David Gorski, submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Oct. 30, 2003. David lived in Darien and banked with Hinsbrook Bank & Trust. Contents suggesting a relationship with World War II also were present, although it is difficult to determine if that is when the Purple Heart was earned.
  • Vincent G. Tuttle, submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Oct. 25, 2018. Vincent lived in Decatur and banked with Busey Bank in Pekin. Information suggests Mr. Tuttle’s father, Delbert Gleason Tuttle, is believed to be the Purple Heart recipient. Vincent might be experiencing unsecure housing. Years ago, he frequented House of Miracles Pentecostal Church in Decatur.
  • Toni Alexander, submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Oct. 26, 2018. Toni lived in Channahon and banked with First Midwest Bank in Shorewood. Channahon straddles Grundy and Will counties and is near Morris. A Bible also was in the safe deposit box. Information suggests Toni was the owner of the safe deposit box and the Purple Heart recipient was Private Charles J. Alexander, who earned the honor for wounds received against the enemy in the Central Pacific area on July 30, 1944. He might have been a Marine and might have been wounded during the Mariana Islands battle campaign.
  • Isbell Servina, or Mary A. Shayer, or Vincent P. Shayer, submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Oct. 31, 2018. It is believed they lived in Chicago. Each name was on the safe deposit box. A will for Mary and a trust for Vincent also were in the safe deposit box.
  • Michelle Steward or Patricia VanHasselaere, submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Oct. 31, 2018. It is believed they lived in Round Lake. A will for Patricia also was in the safe deposit box.

If you have information that can help the state of Illinois find there heroes, you can email them with what you know. We can never do enough to thank those that have served this country know how much their lives and service mean to the rest of us.

Honoring our Military and Veterans

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