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A Purple Heart returns, just before Memorial Day

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Posted at 3:29 PM, May 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-27 15:29:44-04

After almost 100 years, a Purple Heart will be returned to the family of a WWI soldier.

Corporal William Frederick Zartman was severely wounded during combat in France on July 22, 1918. The details of his injury are unknown, but he was later issued Purple Heart medal #56142.

Purple Hearts Reunited is a nonprofit group that returns medals of valor to their veterans or to their families. Tomorrow, an honor guard will return Zartman’s Purple Heart to his grandnephew, Wayne Francis Bowers at VFW Post 2506 in Hanover, Pa.

“It means a lot to us,” Bowers said. “We’re a small knit family, and we’re pretty honored to get this now.”

Zartman was a barber who lived in York County, Pa., and died of tuberculosis at a V.A. hospital in May 1948. The return ceremony for the Purple Heart, happening Saturday, is on the memorial of his death day.

Bowers said he knew about his great-uncle, but until he was contacted about the return, he had no idea that Zartman had earned a Purple Heart.

“I was pretty shocked about it,” Bowers said.

Zartman’s Purple Heart was purchased online by Purple Hearts Reunited from a collector.

The Purple Heart being returned to Bowers is one of the one hundred WWI Purple Hearts that the nonprofit is hoping to return before April 6, 2017, the 100-year anniversary of United States involvement in WWI.

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