Purple heart ceremony

An Edna boy experienced an unusual rendition of the proverb “Home is where the heart is” when he found a Purple Heart while digging through dirt in his backyard.

The medal was found eight years ago at 1003 Fulton St. in Edna and was recently given to the Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 3077 in Victoria, whose members are now searching for its rightful owner.

Zarron Hernandez and his friend, Zion Harris, were about 5 years old when they were in his backyard playing a pirate game, digging for treasure.

“They were tickled to death because they had actually found some gold,” said Woodrow Hernandez, Zarron’s father.

The backyard was being remodeled, and the boys dug a hole in an area where a koi pond was planned to be built.

Hernandez said the kids dug about 2 feet in the ground when they cracked open a cedar box containing the medal and a pocketknife.

Zarron, now 13, placed the Purple Heart on his nightstand throughout the years; however, Hernandez said something always bothered him about it.

“Every time I saw it, I would think, ‘It doesn’t belong to us,'” he said.

Hernandez tried to put the word out through social media but was unable to find anyone. Then, he remembered his uncle was a veteran and thought he would know what to do with it.

His uncle, Norman Ramirez, adjutant for the Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 3077, and Rene Reyes, the commander of the organization, said it is not common for someone to lose a Purple Heart.

The medal is awarded to members of the U.S. who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy or those who are killed in action or die from wounds received in action.

Reyes said it is difficult to find the owner because the search would be too broad.

“We don’t know if it’s from the , , or ,” Reyes said. “All the branches receive the Purple Heart.”

All the information they have about the heart is the name engraved on the back of the medal: For Merit, Albert C. Armstrong.

However, Reyes said Armstrong does not appear on the directory for Chapter 3077.

Zac Fike, founder of Purple Hearts Reunited, said several people named Albert C. Armstrong have served in different branches in different time periods.

The medal is from the time of World War II. However, Fike said the man could have been in World War I, World War II, the Korean War or the Vietnam War.

“He could have fought during World War I and then been issued the medal years later,” he said. “However, during World War II, the U.S. produced about 500,000 Purple Hearts, and there was a surplus, so they issued them out for people who fought in Korea and Vietnam.”

Fike said the Armstrongs he found during his research were not from Texas, so the medal could have ended up in Edna because of family or been lost or stolen.

“We see some amazing Purple Heart stories that determine how they got there,” he said. “Every medal has its own journey.”

Fike said he requested more information about the medal’s owner from the National Personnel Records Center, but he expected it would take about two days to get any results. However, because Armstrong is a common name, it will be a case of trial and error when contacting families.

Reyes said the Order of the Purple Heart plans to return the medal to the owner or his family with a formal presentation.

“The rightful owner or the family deserves it,” Reyes said. “With an honor like that, it needs to stay with the family.”

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