Purple Heart returned to family after 17 years

purple heart

Slyvia Jabaley and Linda Bulla sit at the kitchen table and share stories as Bill Bulla looks on. A decade after Slyvia Jabaley found a forgotten Purple Heart belonging to World War II-era soldier Clyde Ballenger in her Wilmington home, his only daughter, Linda, was located in Fayetteville and came to Wilmington Friday to get the medal.

Ken Blevins, Halifax Media
Published: Monday, August 19, 2013 at 06:16 PM.

Clyde Ballenger’s Purple Heart is one of the few traces left of his life.

Before the 22-year-old was lost at sea in 1944, his wife, Elizabeth, had the couple’s only child, Linda. She was only a year old when her father died.

Nearly 70 years after Ballenger’s ship sank in the North Atlantic, a Wilmington mom, Sylvia Jabaley, discovered the medal while spring cleaning.

On Friday, Linda Bulla was reunited with her father’s Purple Heart after the iconic medal had been separated from the family for more than 15 years.

Bulla never thought she would see the medal again. As she sat inside the brick house at the corner of Wrightsville Avenue and Audubon Boulevard in Wilmington, Jabaley told her about finding the medal. Her husband, Eric, first discovered it in 1998 while he sifted through items left behind by renters. It had been put away for safekeeping and forgotten until she came across it.

Jabaley, the daughter of a Vietnam War veteran, immediately recognized the medal – awarded to members of the armed forces wounded in action.

“I couldn’t imagine my dad’s medal being in somebody else’s top dresser drawer,” Jabaley said, as Bulla sat at her kitchen table.

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