A Colorado family was reunited with a treasured Purple Heart medal that went missing a decade ago, thanks to one heroic dog.
Tom Unterwagner said the prestigious medal was found after his friend Steve Jankousky's dog, Smuckers, dug a hole while hunting for buried treasure, Fox 4 News reports.
“It turned out to be a great hole she dug that day,” Unterwagner told Fox 4. “It was meant to be.”
After Smuckers found the Purple Heart, Unterwagner and Jankousky began calling every person in the phone book that had the same last name as the one engraved on the medal. The owner never turned up.
One day, Unterwagner and Jankousky heard about an organization called Purple Hearts Reunited, and decided to give them a call. Captain Zachariah Fike was able to get local news coverage in an effort to help the duo reunite the medal with its owner, and the public search ended as quickly as it began.
“Shortly after the story aired, within a couple of minutes, 15 minutes, we got a call from his daughter,” Fike told Fox 4. “She had all of his military paperwork and she shared that with us.”
As luck would have it, Leatra Plick caught the news report about the Purple Heart, and knew right away that it was her father’s. "I said ‘Oh my gosh, that's my dad’,” Plick said. A week later, she got the medal back.
“We saw your father`s name, Richmond Litman,” Jankousky told Plick. Litman died in 1990.
“It's a miracle, that's what it is,” Plick said. “God sent a miracle.”
After a decade without Litman’s treasured medal in her possession, Plick and her family have Smuckers to thank for getting such an important piece of her father’s legacy back.
“To see his name on the back. And just to know, when he was alive he had held this in his hands and to know that I’m holding it in mine," Plick said. "It’s a wonderful feeling. I will honor this purple heart as long as I live.”