Metal recycling center searches for Purple Heart owner

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WAYNESBORO, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) — An employee at Gerdau Metals Recycling in Waynesboro found a Purple Heart this past Friday inside a Kia delivered to the recycling center.

"We were receiving cars from a local company that had been repossessing, as well as picking up abandoned vehicles," said Leroy Wells, location manager at Gerdau.

Before the cars are recycled, employees from the recycling center go through the car to search for hazardous materials. During this search, an employee found the Purple Heart.

"I was shocked and kind of excited because I really wanted to return it to the rightful owners," Wells said.

This discovery turned into a search for the owner of the Purple Heart. Wells said they're using clues left behind with the war medal and car to help them with their search.

"The box itself appears to be from the Korean War or possibly the World War II era," Wells said. "We found paperwork that came from the Veteran's Association where apparently he had been there for medical reasons and following up."

As a veteran, Wells said it's important for him to find the owner of the Purple Heart to honor this service member's sacrifice to serve our country.

"Any medal or anything that belongs to a veteran should go back to them or at least to their family," he said. "It really doesn't have any monetary value, but there is a lot of sentimental value and a lot of respect for that veteran that received that medal in the line of duty."

If you have any information that could lead to the owner of the Purple Heart, you're asked to call Gerdau Metals Recycling at (540) 942-4219.