WWII Purple Heart returned to vet's family

HOUSTON, Texas (KHOU) -- James Austin came to our sister station KHOU 11 News in Houston with a mystery in his hand. He had found a Purple Heart at the home of a friend who collects items from storage shed auctions.

"And he has a lot of stuff there," said Austin. "He just knew it was there. I hope it can be returned to the rightful owners."

Inscribed on the medal was the name Sandolio Alvarez, a Florida native who served in the army during World War II.

KHOU checked and learned that he had been killed in action a few weeks after his 21st birthday. Soon after airing the story, the station was contacted by the soldier's family, who had been alerted by a KHOU viewer.

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JoAnn Alvarez Register is Sandolio's niece. She's 74 years old and lives in Tampa.

"He played the guitar and he sung a lot of Spanish songs," she said. "His remains were never returned to us."

JoAnn was just a small child when her uncle was killed. She read a portion of the last letter he sent home.

"Now I am in Burma someplace and I am alright," she read. "So don't worry about me and God will bring me back safely."

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After learning about the family connection, Austin agreed to ship the medal back to the family.

He was able to speak with JoAnn through Skype, and he explained to her why he did what he did.

"When I found it, I knew it didn't belong where it was," said Austin. "And I knew that someone would be out there waiting for it."

"Unbelievable," said JoAnn. "He's coming home."

Over the weekend, the medal finally arrived back home after all these years.


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