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Purple Heart makes its way home after decade-long search

Posted November 22
Updated November 23

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— The Purple Heart is one of the most revered symbols of the sacrifice service members make in defending America. It's awarded to those wounded or killed in the line of duty.

Ten years ago, a Purple Heart showed up in a Siler City local salvage yard, setting off a decade-long search for the warrior who earned it.

Jimmy and Jeanette Marsh, the owners of Marsh Auto Parts, found the medal in 2006 when a wrecked Chevrolet Blazer showed up at their business.

They made some calls and learned that the Blazer, which had been involved in a rollover crash in Hope Mills, belonged to Scott Michael Wolfe.

They found a phone number, but it was old.

So, the Marshes stowed away the medal in a desk and waited. When WRAL News reported on the search for the medal's owner in 2014, the Purple Heart came to WRAL's studios on Western Boulevard in Raleigh.

In October of this year, an email began the process of bringing the medal home.

It was from 36-year-old Scott Michael Wolfe, who now lives in Wilmington.

A friend of Wolfe's wife messaged him on Facebook with a link to the 2014 story.

"And I was like, 'Yeah, I honestly think this is mine,'" Wolfe said. "And I was like, 'Wow, OK.'"

In July 2006, Wolfe and his wife were moving from Fort Bragg to Kentucky, where he had a new assignment as an Army recruiter.

Wolfe drove a U-haul truck, and his wife was driving their Blazer when she was involved in an accident in Hope Mills.

Neither of them realized Wolfe's medal was inside, and he assumed it was lost in their move.

"I was bummed, I'll be honest with you. It was the original, the one my battalion commander and sergeant major personally handed to me," he said.

Wolfe earned the medal after serving in Iraq in 2004. An improvised explosive device went off as his unit moved through Fallujah. Wolfe and others from his unit, who were serving Charlie Company, 1st of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, were hurt, but nobody was killed.

After the Wolfes were settled, he did find the document verifying that he earned the Purple Heart.

"I bought the new one, but it wasn't the same thing," he said.

Recently, the medal finally made it home.

"I got goosebumps, to be honest with you," Wolfe said after receiving the medal. "The good Lord works in mysterious ways sometimes."

Wolfe has been out of the Army since 2010.

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