ANTIGO - Nine pennies sit on a tombstone in Antigo after a memorial Thursday where the family of a fallen soldier honored his service with that military tradition.
It was for a 16-year-old who fought and died in the Korean War; whose Purple Heart was lost for years until it was found in an unlikely place.
"I was sitting there minding my own business last Sunday, she called out the blue I thought she was trying scam me," said army veteran Greg Marvin.
A Wabeno man, Ron Marvin, also an Army veteran, found a Purple Heart belonging to Karl in toolbox last week. Greg is Karl's nephew. A friend of Marvin's traced that connection back to Greg after seeing his name on the Korean War Project
website and called him.
For Greg's cousin Tim, the dots were connected in different way.
"Somehow or other [sic] it ended up on Channel 12 … said that Ron is looking for someone in the Bera family to give this medal to," said Tim Bera.
After this story
was posted to Facebook, Newswatch 12 was able to connect Marvin to Tim's side of the family as well. In less than one week, a handful of family members made plans to meet at Queen of Peace Cemetery in Anitgo to receive the Purple Heart and see Karl laid to rest next to his sister, Verna
"We can't just thank him enough. It was something. He didn't have to," said Greg. "It deserves to be somewhere other than a tool box."
"It's totally awesome, awesome, and they're such a nice family I'm glad it worked out the way it did," said Marvin.
Among the family members in attendance Thursday was Greg's daughter and Karl's great niece Katie who also served in the Army.
"It's amazing that he's at the forefront of our thoughts today and that he's getting the honor that he deserves every day," said Katie.
After exchanging the medal, Marvin and the Bera family discussed Karl's military service. They believe Karl, who had 12 siblings, concealed his real age to fight in the Korean War.
"Karl volunteered at 16 and died at 16," said Marvin. "That takes one hell of a man to do something like that."
The family also noted how Karl's medal brought them together for a reunion of sorts.
"Everyone here besides my parents I had not met before," said Katie. "It's been a pretty crazy experience and we're just really grateful," said Katie.
No one knew out how the Purple Heart ended up in a stranger's tool box, but Greg says more of Karl's military commendations may have been lost throughout the years.
Marvin had the following advice for anyone who may find a military medal in the future.
"If you do find them, try as hard as you can to get them back and you'll be grateful that you did," said Marvin.