Ann Olsen figured it had been lost.
“Amazement, absolute amazement,” that’s how Ann describes getting a phone call saying her uncle’s Purple Heart had been found at a Pierce County thrift store.
Pfc. Johnnie Olsen received a Purple Heart from the military after being killed in a German prisoner of war camp in 1944.
“I’m not a crier, but it actually bought tears to my eyes,” said Ann.
Last week Brandon Beaver, a veteran who fought for the Army in Iraq, found the Purple Heart in Spanaway’s Mountain Multi-Thrift.
It was priced at $15.
“I said, ‘Hey I need to take this and find the family for it,’” Beaver said.
The store owner let Beaver take the Purple Heart, who posted pictures on Facebook and on veteran websites.
Sgt. Justin Trammell, an active-duty soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord heard about the medal and started looking online for relatives of Johnnie’s.
After learning Johnnie had been buried in Texas, he located Johnnie’s niece, Ann.
He mailed the medal to Ann on Friday.
“It’s the right thing to do,” said Trammell. “It belongs in one place only, and that’s with the family.”
Ann said she can’t wait to hold the Purple Heart.
She never met “Uncle Johnnie” but always remembers hearing how proud the family was of him.
Ann believes another uncle, who was married and lived in Seattle, lost the medal after getting divorced.
She’s thrilled it’s coming back to the family.
“This, to me, speaks to the warrior’s ethos, you know, ‘Never leave a fallen comrade?’ I feel like they are bringing part of Johnnie home.”