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Late WWII Veteran's Medal Is Returned To His Family

Cass Herrington/Peoria Public Radio
Connie Barr holds the Purple Heart belonging to her father Edward Dunn, a World War II Army veteran pictured here playing with his dog Skip.

The daughter of a World War II veteran who died 47 years ago has finally received her father’s Purple Heart.

The medal was originally awarded to the late Army Cpl. Edward Dunn.  He died in 1970. Years later, his Purple Heart was discovered in a safe deposit box that was surrendered to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office as unclaimed property.

Credit Cass Herrington/Peoria Public Radio
At a ceremony Monday in Peoria, Connie Barr holds up a diary that her father, Army Cpl. Edward Dunn, kept during World War II.

State Treasurer Michael Frerichs presented the Purple Heart to Cpl. Dunn’s daughter, Connie Barr, during a ceremony Monday at the World War II memorial outside the Peoria County Courthouse.

“My dad has been gone for over forty years, and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t still miss him,” Barr said. “And to have this part of him means so much to me.”

Barr was 14 when her father died.  

During his service, Dunn participated in the Rhineland Campaign and the Western Allied Invasion of Germany. After the war, he worked for Hiram Walker & Sons Distillery in Peoria and later became mayor of Bellevue. 

“Mr. Dunn had an impressive background, and today I’m proud to return his Purple Heart back to his family, where it belongs,” Frerichs said.

Edward Dunn’s medal was kept in a safe deposit box that was surrendered to the state treasurer’s office as unclaimed property in 1993.

Barr says she thought a call from the state three weeks ago was a scam:

“As we went through the conversation, it became clear to me that there was something from my dad’s military background in this safe deposit box," she said.  "And I said, 'I don’t know what it could be,' and he was so excited, he just blurted out: ‘Your dad’s Purple Heart is in there!'”

Frerichs is promoting his office’s role in returning unclaimed property to Illinoisans. This is the third lost Purple Heart to be reclaimed in the last six months.

Barr says she’s also trying to obtain duplicates of other medals her father received to put in a memorial. Following the ceremony, a member of the Peoria County Veteran’s Assistance Commission offered to help.