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Two Virginia heroes honored with medals they earned in long-ago wars

Purple Hearts Reunited has returned an estimated 800 medals of valor to the families and hometown communities of service members.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Purple Hearts Reunited is dedicated to the straightforward mission of returning the medals of valor to their rightful recipients, or their families, to honor their sacrifice for this nation.

At the history-filled Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, the Purple Heart Medal of 2nd Lieutenant Robert L. Green will go on display and tell his story of bravery. Green's closest surviving descendants decided that the museum would be the best place for the medal.

The Princess Anne County native died in the closing days of WWII in 1945, in the Pacific, in his B-25 bomber.

Purple Hearts Reunited presented his Medal to the museum's director.

"It's important for us to honor them for all they've given for our nation," said Erin Faith Allen, Purple Hearts Reunited operations director.

Military Aviation Museum Director Keegan Chetwynd is proud that his facility was chosen to be the caretakers of this important artifact.

"It is incredible this organization honors the heroes from WWI, WWII, Korea and other conflicts," he said.

Allen also shared the story of Private First Class Frederick Henry Gates, who was severely wounded 103 years ago, in 1918, in WWI.

The organization presented his Medal to his closest living relative: great-great niece Laura Storm, of Norfolk.

Storm was impressed that the organization even found her. She now wants  to volunteer to help it with its sacred mission.

"Yeah, I wanted to spend a little time finding out how they determined, of all the Fred Gates' in World War One, my great uncle was the one," she said.

To date, the Vermont-based non-profit organization has returned an estimated 800 Purple Heart Medals since its founding in 2012.

Since 1932, an estimated two million troops have earned the Purple Heart Medal, which is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to members of the U.S. armed forces who are wounded in war at the hands of the enemy, and posthumously to next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or who die of wounds received in action. It is specifically a combat decoration.

Around 430,000 Purple Heart Medals have been presented posthumously.