When her uncle Lenny died, Sheila Bedi’s father went through Lenny’s belongings–and lo and behond he found a purple heart.
“It was in a box of items that was left behind in the barn,” said Bedi.
Bedi had no relation to Private First Class Frank Conroy, the medal’s recipient, who fought in France during World War I.
“My uncle used to travel around and go to yard sales and auctions and that’s how we kind of surmised that he ended up with it,” said Bedi.
Then one day she was watching the news.
“After seeing the segment about purple hearts reunited, I contacted them through Facebook,” said Bedi.
Zachary Fike of Purple Hearts Reunited, in turn, contacted Conroy’s great-grand-niece Monica Pollard.
“He found Frank in my family tree and wanted to know a little bit about him and whether or not he had children because he had a purple heart,” said Pollard.
Conroy died in 1936 and it turns out he had no children, and Pollard was the closest relative.
“It’s a branch of my family tree that I”m very fond of because I was able to find the family burial plot right in Bangor,” said Pollard.
Immediately Sheila Bedi knew what she had to do.
She and her husband drove all the way from Vermont here to Pittsfield, Maine, to return the medal to private Conroy’s family.
“To have it in the family that he was a part of to take custody of it, to make sure that it gets handed down, to make sure that there’s a story about it, to make sure that it’s displayed properly, I feel really honored to be able to do that,” said Conroy.
“It was an honor, and very exciting at the time to bring it back home to the family. It has a lot of significant meaning to the family,” said Bedi.
Pollard’s husband Mo served in the Global War on Terror, and so the purple heart has special significance to this military family.
“We just really value veterans and the sacrifices that they’ve made and Frank was wounded in the line of duty serving his country. That’s a very big deal. And it’s an honor to have the medal that represents that,” said Pollard.
“Part of finding something that’s lost–the best part is giving it back to where it belongs,” said Bedi.