Purple Heart returned to family of Marine killed in Vietnam

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND)- Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs has returned a Purple Heart and other military medals to the family of a Marine killed in Vietnam.

PFC Andrew Gust Richard, from the Elkhart area, served in Vietnam from February to June 1968. He was killed by hostile fire during Operation Allen Brook at Bac Dong Ban, Go Noi Island in the Quang Nam Province of South Vietnam, according to information provided by the treasurer's office.

PFC Richard's medals were kept in a safe deposit box and eventually ended up in the possession of the Illinois Treasurer's Office, which holds unclaimed military medals.

In 2016, Frerichs asked his staff to reunite unclaimed medals with their rightful owners. Lee LoBue, advocacy director for the treasurers office, has worked to find the families to whom those medals belong. He began the search for PFC Richard's family online.

"I reached out to a sister on Facebook of all means and asked if they had contact information for individuals whose names were on the safe deposit box," LoBue said.

In a capitol ceremony Tuesday, Frerichs handed over PFC Richard's medals to his nieces.

"PFC Richard earned these medals by paying the ultimate sacrifice for our country," Frerichs said during the ceremony.

Since December 2016, the treasurer's office has reported returning five Purple Heart medals to families, along with other military medals. Still, the office reports having more than 100 unclaimed medals.

"We had a lady in Peoria recently that we returned a Korean War medal to, and we were able to find background information she never knew about her father," LoBue said.

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