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Florida man receives father's World War II Purple Heart medal

Medal found at Tampa thrift store

Art Broaderick, with his wife Caryl, holds the framed Purple Heart medal awarded to his father during World War II seven months before he was born during a ceremony on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017, in Burlington, Vt.
Art Broaderick, with his wife Caryl, holds the framed Purple Heart medal awarded to his father during World War II seven months before he was born during a ceremony on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017, in Burlington, Vt. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring)

BURLINGTON, Vt. – A Florida man born seven months after his father was killed while fighting in France during World War II has received his father's Purple Heart medal, which recently was found in a Tampa thrift store.

Art Broaderick, who lives in St. Petersburg but spends summers in Vermont, was given Earl Broaderick's medal Friday in Burlington during a ceremony arranged by the Vermont-based group Purple Hearts Reunited. The group contacted Art Broaderick after hearing from a woman who found the medal and wanted help finding its rightful owner.

Earl Broaderick died in combat in 1944. His son first learned of the medal this week when contacted by Purple Hearts Reunited. It was officially presented to him by Boy Scout Daniel Durgin, of Cabot, who raised the money for the ceremony as part of his Eagle Scout project. An emotional Broaderick hugged Durgin.

Art Broaderick is a Vietnam War veteran who went off to fight and earned his own Purple Heart for his service. He's the youngest of three children.

"It gives me a part of our father," Broaderick said of his father's medal.

The medal was in a frame along with a description of his father's service and a photograph.

Purple Hearts Reunited was found in 2012 by Vermont National Guardsman Zachariah Fike. He started the organization informally three years earlier when his mother gave him a Purple Heart and dog tags she had bought in an antique shop. Fike tracked down the sister of that veteran.

The organization has presented hundreds of medals and lesser memorabilia received by the organization, including dog tags, earned in conflicts ranging from World War I to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. About 400 medals, including about 100 this year, have been returned so far, Fike said.

There was no explanation about how the medal ended up at the thrift store. The woman who found the Purple Heart called Fike on Sunday, he said. He quickly tracked down Broaderick and was surprised to learn he was in Stowe, about 35 east of Burlington.

Purple Hearts Reunited immediately began working on the ceremony so the medal could be returned to Broaderick before he heads south for the winter.