DALLAS -- Once a month a group of former Marines meet for lunch in Dallas. Thursday morning they welcomed a civilian guest.

Donna MacDonald's 'ticket in' is a copy of a badly damaged document that survived a devastating fire at the National Military Archives in St. Louis. It's proof that Corporal Reed E Clark -- her great, great grandfather -- was wounded in France during World War One.

"I had a name, but I didn't really know much about him," MacDonald said.

This meeting marks the end of a year long journey to bring a medal back to the family of the wounded soldier who earned it.

"If you get wounded, you have first of all raised your hand to serve your country -- the purple heart is significant because it shows the blood sweat and tears," said Mitchell Bell, a retired Marine and member of the Purple Hearts Reunited nonprofit.

Clark took shrapnel to the hand fighting in France in 1918 -- he was Purple Heart in 1943.

His extended family had no idea until this medal turned up in a thrift shop in Idaho.

The owner called the non-profit Purple Hearts United -- volunteers spent the next year researching that's when they found MacDonald.

"We would like to return your great grandfather's purple heart and your grandfathers dog tag from WWII -- we want this back in the family where it belongs," said Bell.

The truth is medals like this don't always make it home. Purple hearts are bought and sold online -- there's no law against it.

"These people will sell them on eBay, which I don't think is really right -- it belongs to the family," Bell said.
This medal isn't going online -- it's going home.

"It's just going to be really really neat to have that piece of my great grandfather -- and to bring it home to my family," MacDonald said.

Saving the medal and the story behind it from becoming a casualty of history.