Vietnam vet hunts for clues to solve the mystery of the lost World War II purple heart

Vietnam vet Don Crigger hopes to unravel world War II Purple Heart mystery. (Ken Newton/News-Press Now)

A Marine vet who fought in Vietnam is looking for the owner of a lost World War II Purple Heart.

The quest has the Need Crigger in a detective of sorts who feels the duty to solve the mystery, the News-Press in St. Joseph, Mo., reported Sunday.

“A Purple Heart is extra special because a military has shed blood for his country,” Crigger said. “It must be recognized, and someone must have in their possession.”

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Pete E. Cole’s Purple Heart was found in a Missouri antique store years ago.

(Ken Newton/News-Press Now)

Twenty years ago, a friend of Crigger’s purchased the box of old picture frames at an antique store in Missouri, the Huntington Herald-Dispatch in West Virginia showed last week.


A few years later she rummaged in the box and discovered the medal with the name “Pete E. Cole” is engraved along with a serial number.

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Pete E. Cole Purple Heart.

(Ken Newton/News-Press Now)

Crigger, 74, of St. Joseph told the Herald-Dispatch that his friend has cancer, and has become fixated on the return of the lost penny.

The ex-Marine knew from his own research that Cole took service in the Army, on his 20th birthday in 1942 in Huntington, but not much more than that.

The Herald-Dispatch story with new leads.

One led to a conversation with a woman in West Virginia, who married one of Cole’s brother.

The News-Press reported the woman told Crigger that Cole died, 44 years ago, after surviving the war and had a daughter and he lived in Ohio.

Crigger is now trying to track her down with the help of Zachariah Fike of Purple Hearts Reunited. Fike offered to help after seeing the Herald-Dispatch story.

“For many of these medals, especially if it is a posthumous coin, this would be the last tangible item that you would ever receive from their loved one,” Fike told the News-Press.

“To be separated from something like that and then reunited with it, it has a lot of special meaning. In his own spiritual way, bring that person to that family.”

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