“It was like having a piece of my dad returned” says Vivian Frederick, upon meeting up with a homeless couple who found her father’s Purple Heart medal among trash and drug paraphernalia in an abandoned RV. Derral G. Tarrance, who died in 2011, was awarded the medal for his service during the Korean War. It turns out that the medal, along with his urn and a memorial flag were stolen from his family’s home in Utah three months ago.
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“My father was in the Army and it’s a generation of Army veterans, Navy veterans,” says Kari. “Right off the bat I recognized what that was. I have family members who have been in the military,” added Jeffrey. So they began their search for Derral Tarrance and/or his family members.
“He was the best dad I could ever have,” Derral’s daughter, Cindy Dempsey, said.
Her father died in July of 2011 in Utah, where she and the rest of his family currently live.
Three months ago, she says, someone broke into her mother’s home and stole the medal, his urn, and a memorial flag.
“It was heartbreaking. We couldn’t believe someone would stoop that low,” Dempsey said.
Drury said he found it last Thursday. By midday he managed to get a hold of Tarrance’s family, thanks to social media. He says he posted it on Facebook and people rushed to help.
“Heirlooms are important to my wife and I. We lost five children already so heirlooms and memories attached to them are very important,” he said.
Dempsey calls it a blessing that underneath all the trash, one man found another family’s long lost treasure.
“When you feel like maybe you should go the extra mile, maybe it was worth it because it was to us,” said Dempsey.
“It was like having a piece of my dad returned,” she said. “It’s a violation to lose the urn and so many other pieces, so to have this returned to our family …. we’re all really happy.”
Frederick told KOIN 6 News her dad came into their lives during a time of trouble not unlike what the Drury’s are experiencing.
“It seems kind of serendipitous,” she said. “My dad was on the brink himself, he had been on the streets when my mom met him.”
Her mom, who had a “knack for reaching people in a crisis moment and helping them transition quickly into an OK state” helped Derral get back on his feet.
“He was the best dad that I could have ever wanted,” Frederick said. “He has made a huge impact and ripple. We have a large family. He was a granddad to the many grandchildren who are around now.”
“How serendipitous that I’m getting this medal back on Memorial Day, or close to it,” she said. “And this acknowledgement of a hero in war is making its journey back on a day that’s remembering our heroes and he most definitely was my hero.”
The urn and memorial flag have still not been found.
“What kind of value could you get off of taking that from somebody?”
The family of this Purple Heart recipient says the medal was stolen 3 months ago in Utah. Their search ended right before Memorial Day Weekend. That story is coming up at 6! #liveonk2 pic.twitter.com/G45XAwpOZH
— Catherine Van (@cat08van) May 24, 2018