A couple from Mesa, Arizona, were looking at green shirts for St. Patrick’s Day at a local Goodwill when they stumbled upon a Purple Heart in the jewelry section.
"This is not right that this is in a Goodwill," Laura Hardy told KPHO/KTVK. "We're going to take it out and try to connect with its family."
She and her husband purchased the item for $4.99 in the hopes of finding the rightful owner.
The couple finally found the proprietor thanks to a viral Facebook post that garnered over 92,000 shares in five days.
"Looking for the family of Eual H. Whiteman," Hardy wrote in the March 12 Facebook post alongside a photo of the Purple Heart. "Deceased in nineteen ninety one. What a shame to find it at Goodwill for $4.99.”
Whiteman served in the U.S. Army and is likely buried at a cemetery in Oregon, KPHO/KTVK reports.
"I really respect people who go into the military," Hardy said.
Since Whiteman didn’t have any children, his award ended up in a box of his nephew’s things that were donated across the country.
"I can't believe the outpouring from all over the country and I'm going to search the Goodwills in the jewelry section and see if there's any other medals that's need to be returned," Hardy said.
A spokesperson for Goodwill said their employees sift through thousands of items a day and the Purple Heart likely went unnoticed.
"If they do identify an item of significance like a Medal of Honor, we ask them to pull them and then we do try to contact, whether it's the [Veterans Affairs] or local authorities," Courtney Nelson with Goodwill of Central Arizona said.
Hardy said the medal is now on its way back to its rightful owner.
"It must've been very valuable to his family and I thought they should have it back," she added.