Phoenix woman finds 1950s Purple Heart in thrift shop, then finds recipient’s family

March 19, 2021
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 A precious discovery in the most unlikely of places led a Phoenix woman to a Florida family.

With a family’s irreplaceable possession suddenly in her hands, she went to great lengths to make sure she could return it to them.

“This is the first one where I’ve been successful finding the family,” said Teresa Ferrin.

Ferrin is a volunteer at the Christian Family thrift store in Phoenix.

“I looked all over it and found out that it had a name on it,” she said.

This find was different. They were going through bins with the new items getting ready to price them, and that’s when they noticed there was something they didn’t think should be in a thrift store.

“One of the ladies brought something up to me and said, ‘I think this is a Purple Heart,'” Ferrin recalled.

A Korean War veteran’s award, with many others, was on a piece of cardboard.

“They’ve probably been like that since 1951-52 when he got those medals,” Ferrin said.

She found the name: Erik Karl Blauberg.

“I called the place he was buried,” Ferrin said.

He was living in Apache Junction when he died in the 80s, but after several calls, she got his children’s names.

“Facebook. I got on Facebook and found them,” she said.

Insert Lisa Walker, more than 2,000 miles away in Florida.

“It happened to be my fathers,” Walker said.

One of eight children raised by their mom, Walker said their father wasn’t present most of their lives.

“I didn’t even know he had a Purple Heart,” she said. “It would be the only thing we ever had of my father’s.”

She couldn’t believe decades after his death, Ferrin would find something this special, then find their family.

“I couldn’t be more thankful for her. She never gave up on it,” Walker said.

“My father was in Korea and I just felt like I would want that if somebody found it,” Ferrin said.

The most unlikely of finds in an Arizona thrift shop is now in the mail on its way to Florida home with family, where it should be.

“I do think it’s a sign from my father, but I don’t know; it’s just hard. It’s bittersweet,” said Walker.

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