Officials look to get Purple Heart in hands of family of Navy sailor from WWII

By KAREN BLACKLEDGE | The Daily Item | Published: January 14, 2020

DANVILLE, Pa. (Tribune News Service) — Officials from the Montour County Veterans Affairs Office are searching for a relative to return a Purple Heart medal awarded a deceased service member from World War II.

John Novak, an assistant in the office, was given the medal once awarded to Albert Jeremiah Helt, a Seaman 1st Class with the U.S. Naval Reserves, by Dale Breech. Breech was renting a storage unit and found the medal in a box while cleaning up the unit. He took the medal to Novak last month.

On the front of the box is the name of Gladys A. Helt, of 273 Fourth St., Northumberland, to whom the medal had been sent. "I assume she was his wife or mother," Novak said. On the front of the box is listed that Albert Helt was deceased.

The medal is inscribed on the back with Helt's name and his rank.

"We'd like to give it a family member if we can find a family member," he said.

He contacted the Northumberland County Veterans Affairs Office.

Northumberland County Veterans Affairs Director Belinda Albright said Tuesday she had information on a burial card, provided by The Daily Item from May 29, 2003, that Helt was killed in action in World War II in 1945. She said it appears the date of death was April 17, 1945. No enlistment date is given and where he was buried is unknown.

Anyone with information is asked to call Novak at 570-271-3061.

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