Local News

Relatives of WWII veteran learn the backstory about soldier's accomplishments

Posted November 24, 2019 7:20 p.m. EST
Updated November 26, 2019 7:21 p.m. EST

— Relatives of a World War II military veteran who didn't know much about their loved one's accomplishments were presented Sunday with an award to mark his accomplishments.

Veteran's Legacy Foundation, a national non-profit group, helped fill in the gaps of knowledge about William Heffernan, whose son didn't know much about his father's contributions while in the military.

"My father never talked about it," Arthur Heffernan said.

The younger man said he always wondered about his father’s military past and wanted to know all he could, but information was hard to come by, especially since his father passed away.

William Heffernan was also the grandfather of WRAL News reporter Sloane Heffernan.

The elder Heffernan's records were lost during a blaze at the National Archive Fire of 1973, which occurred at the Military Personnel Records Center in Overland, Missouri,

His son feared that he would never know his father's back-story.

But Veteran's Legacy Foundation stepped in and helped find the missing pieces.

John Eiskamp, executive director of the group, said part of their mission is helping create a complete picture of the history of military soldiers.

"We basically research veterans' records for awards that they earned, (and) possibly awards that they were missing and are due.”

It took their researchers three years to put the records together about William Heffernan.

The group's staffers came to Raleigh to present their results after concluding that William Heffernan had earned a Purple Heart, two Bronze Star Medals and many other decorations.

Heffernan's family was in shock.

"I was very emotional," Arthur Heffernan said.

Organizers say they were happy to deliver details about William Heffernan's legacy.

"We should never forget," Eiskamp said. "We should never forget what’s been done for us and remember our veterans.

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