Purple Heart returned to family after 17 years

Published: Monday, August 19, 2013 at 06:16 PM.

“I’m glad he didn’t just throw it away,” Bulla said.

While the two women talked, Bulla clutched the Purple Heart in her hand, the ribbon wedged safely between her fingers. It was home again.

Medal presents mystery

After Jabaley found the medal, she spent hours searching the Internet for some information about Ballenger’s family. She found no confirmed family members, and how the medal ended up in her home was still a mystery.

Ballenger, a boatswain’s mate second class for the U.S. Coast Guard, was killed on March 9, 1944.

On that night, the USS Leopold was about 400 miles south of Iceland. The Leopold was a destroyer-escort protecting a convoy against German U-boats, or submarines.

On March 9, the ship was rocked by a torpedo as its gunners fired at a U-boat, which was already descending into the waters.

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