Unclaimed Hearts

| November 18, 2022

Purple Heart History

Our own Denise sends us notice of unclaimed awards held by the Illinios State Treasurer. Of concern is the number of Purple Heart medals left to languish in their custody.

This is one of those situations that is sad, baffling, infuriating and ultimately inspiring all at the same time. In Illinois, the State Treasurer collects and indefinitely holds unclaimed financial properties. Most often, these are utility deposits for service, insurance premiums, or bank accounts from those who have passed without a comprehensive Last Will & Testament, that were either forgotten about or unknown to heirs. The process to claim these properties is fairly straightforward – prove they are yours or you are the heir, and the Treasurer sends it on.

Occasionally, some of the properties include contents of safety deposit boxes of defunct, sold or merged banks. Sometimes these boxes are considered abandoned because they have not been accessed in years and attempts to reach the listed owner have failed.

The most sad of these unclaimed properties are Purple Hearts. This is the oldest, still awarded military honor of our nation, emblazoned with the profile of George Washington. These medals are so revered they, along with the Medal of Honor, Gold Star Lapel Button, and a select few others may not be bought, sold or reproduced. To think someone shed his or her blood for our nation, received recognition of that sacrifice, and that recognition is now unclaimed and unknown is heartbreaking on so many levels.

The baffling part is how those medals were treasured enough to be placed in safety deposit boxes but end up as unclaimed property. The infuriating part is how there is not a comprehensive list of all those who received a Purple Heart.

It is very possible there are no living decedents of these warriors. It is also possible the Purple Heart of a loved one ended up in the safety deposit box of a family member who had dementia, who failed to let anyone know it was there, and the heirs have believed the recognition bestowed on their family member was simply lost forever.

The inspiring part is what is to come. In the past dozen years, I have been fortunate to learn what the veteran community does best, taking care of your own. So, I am putting this out to all of you.

While looking at the list below, bear in mind the names may or may not be that of the service member. It is also possible the service member never lived in the town listed either. But, I am counting on the internet sleuths amongst you as well as hoping a name or town is going to stir a memory of a buddy’s stories of their family.

Let’s help these medals earned with the literal blood of your fellow warriors find their way home. If you recognize a name or believe you know to whom the medal was awarded, to have it returned to the rightful recipient or heir send them to iCash at https://icash.illinoistreasurer.gov/. I can’t think of anything to be more grateful for than the service of our nations warriors this, and every, Thanksgiving.

· Robert Cawthon, submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Nov. 1, 1992, from Fifth Third Bank in Oak Park. There is conflicting information about where Robert lived. Information suggests the awardee was in the infantry.

· Raymond Wilson, submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Nov. 13, 1995. Raymond lived in Chicago and banked with Chicago Community Bank, which subsequently was sold.

· Lawrence M. Burns, submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Nov. 5, 1997. Lawrence lived in Homewood and banked with Advanced Bank in Homewood. Information also suggests a financial relationship with Homewood Federal Savings and Loan. Today, there is information to suggest Mr. Burns chooses to live in a remote area in California.

· Linda K. Moore, submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Oct. 17, 2001. Linda lived in Peoria and banked with National City Bank in Peoria, which subsequently was sold. Information suggests a relationship with John L. Moore.

· Bernice Smith, submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Nov. 18, 2002. Bernice lived in Oak Park and banked with MB Financial Bank in Oak Park. The bank subsequently was sold.

· David Gorski, submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Oct. 30, 2003. David lived in Darien and banked with Hinsbrook Bank & Trust. Contents suggesting a relationship with World War II also were present, although it is difficult to determine if that is when the Purple Heart was earned.

· Vincent G. Tuttle, submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Oct. 25, 2018. Vincent lived in Decatur and banked with Busey Bank in Pekin. Information suggests Mr. Tuttle’s father, Delbert Gleason Tuttle, is believed to be the Purple Heart recipient. Vincent might be experiencing unsecure housing. Years ago, he frequented House of Miracles Pentecostal Church in Decatur.

· Toni Alexander, submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Oct. 26, 2018. Toni lived in Channahon and banked with First Midwest Bank in Shorewood. Channahon straddles Grundy and Will counties and is near Morris. A Bible also was in the safe deposit box. Information suggests Toni was the owner of the safe deposit box and the Purple Heart recipient was Private Charles J. Alexander, who earned the honor for wounds received against the enemy in the Central Pacific area on July 30, 1944. He might have been a Marine and might have been wounded during the battle of Mariana Islands.

· Isbell Servina, or Mary A. Shayer, or Vincent P. Shayer, submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Oct. 31, 2018. It is believed they lived in Chicago. Each name was on the safe deposit box. A will for Mary and a Trust for Vincent also was in the safe deposit box.

· Michelle Steward or Patricia VanHasselaere, submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Oct. 31, 2018. It is believed they lived in Round Lake. A will for Patricia also was in the safe deposit box.

· Kenneth Wiest, submitted to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Oct. 23, 2019. Kenneth is believed to have lived in O’Fallon, the second-largest city in the Metro East region and Southern Illinois. It is five miles from Scott Air Force Base and 18 miles from Downtown St. Louis. Information suggests a potential connection to Desert Storm and Vietnam.

Posted on the off-chance someone would recognize a name. I have also forwarded Denise a link to Purple Hearts United in the hope they can be of some assistance.

Category: Guest Post, Purple Heart, Veterans Issues, We Remember

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Slow Joe

Well, Ronald Deel is looking for his 3 awards.


In Before KoB LOL




Good thing in before instead of in after. If it was the latter, they wouldn’t even know you were there.

Damn shame this. Least they turn it over to the state instead of keeping it themselves or throwing it in the trash. Shows the inefficiency of the state in not being able to locate someone with all of the info the bank would have. Also shows the importance of letting SOMEBODY know that you have items in a box. And make a will leaving a copy with a competent attorney. Storage Wars is a “Reality Show” staged for Tee Vee, this is Reality in real time.

Thanks for the post, Denise, I have a Friend/Compatriot (retired Wing Wiper, Bless His Heart) that is in the O’Fallon AO. He is involved in Veterans Organization. I’ll forward this to him.

Steve 1371

Does the award also include a monthly compensation payment? If the awardee is married and passes away does the compensation continue for the spouse?






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