Purple Heart medal returned to family of Vietnam veteran

A Purple Heart medal belonging to a Vietnam veteran was returned to his family during an emotional ceremony in Springfield on Sunday.

Army Specialist Kenneth Wiest was injured while serving in Vietnam. He died in 1998 at the age of 48, and the medal sat in a safe deposit box in O'Fallon, Illinois, for years before being turned over to the state.


The Illinois Treasurer's Office tracked down Wiest's family as part of the "unclaimed property" program.

"It's where it needs to be – with his loving family," said daughter Erika Wiest. "All of his children. We've already talked about sharing it between us. It'll be a traveling Purple Heart."

"I will cherish this for the rest of my life," said daughter Andrea Wiest.

Treasurer Mike Frerichs says this is the 8th Purple Heart they've returned as part of the unclaimed property program, and they have ten more they're still trying to reunite with survivors.