When the Purple Heart is awarded for sacrifice and wounds suffered in service to our nation, it is usaully a treasure cherished by the recipient, and family.. not something you'd expect to find in the middle of a road.
So when some students and their teacher in Bakersfield, California, were asked to help get a purple heart found by a trucker back to its rightful owners, they got to work.
Their search led them to Texas, and a navy corpsman
who once lived in Jack and Knox Counties
Robert Bates was on the USS Arizona when it was bombed by the Japanese on December 7, 1941.
His remains are still entombed with more than a thousand others in the memorial, and his name is mistakenly engraved as tobert bates, not robert..
His posthumous medal somehow ended up in the road in front of a Bakersfield VFW post, which enlisted the help of Ken Hooper, and his high school archiving class to help find Bates family.
They found records showing Bates next of kin--his mother and stepfather --lived in Kamay during the war...but no living relatives were found...
Until their search finally led them to Bates only known family in east Texas.
Kris Wilson (Bates niece) : "He was 21 years old and he died for his country, and for that memory to be lost to our kids and our kids' kids that have no way of even connecting to him and not know him would be a tragedy."
Mark Bates (Bates nehew): :"My dad loved his brother a great deal and everytime he spoke of him he would almost cry, cause he loved his older brother."
Kris and Mark's father passed away, so he was not able to see his brother's purple heart returned.
But Robert Bates service is finally known by his family, and the medal will be a constant reminder of his sacrifice.
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