On December 9, 2015 Madison, Wi. A Purple Heart was found pined inside a back pack with no further information by a property clerk. Officer Michael Brennan was made aware of this. Knowing the significance of such a medal he set about the task of reuniting the distinguished medal with it’s rightful owner.
The back pack had been found behind City hall and there were no other identifiers or information to point the Officer in what direction he should go in according to the incident report. He checked with Captain Zachariah Fike who is active duty Army National Guard who, in his free time spearheads a nonprofit called Purple Hearts Reunited.
From the report it states: “Captain Fike, was not optimistic: “This is going to be a tough case … based on the age of the medal, it could have belonged to a WWII, Korea, or even a Vietnam Veteran.” The name on the back seemed fairly common.”
However they struck gold. They had found that only one such medal had been issued in that name and that the recipient was living in California. Not exactly the drive down the road that Officer Brennan had expected he would originally be making when he had discovered that the medal was lost.
Officer Brennan was determined to fufil his task though. He contacted the San Berandino County sheriff’s Office who were only too happy to help. Officer Brennan along with Army National Guard Capt. Zacariah Fike boarded an aircraft and took the 1,900 mile flight to California to reunite Craig E Hampton with his Purple Heart.
Mr.Hampton told the Daily Press: “I didn’t even know that it was missing, “I was shocked when I got the call that it was being returned to me. The last time I saw it was months ago in a dresser drawer when I was living in a care facility.”
Hampton was wounded during Operation Paul Revere IV, where elements from Hampton’s unit were conducting extensive search and destroy missions in Vietnam near the Cambodian border.
He had served in Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. He said he was wounded in action when he stepped on a land mine in Vietnam in November 1966.
“I was walking in the middle of a stream when it went off and I was injured,” said Hampton, who sat in a wheelchair. “I’m missing my left leg as a result of a motorcycle accident. It was the same leg they saved after I was injured in Vietnam.”
There was a formal presentation of all Hampton’s medals when Brennan and Fike made the presentation to him.