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Purple Heart medals are awarded to service members who have been wounded or killed as a result of enemy action while serving in the military.
Purple Heart medals are awarded to service members who have been wounded or killed as a result of enemy action while serving in the military. (Will Cox/U.S. Army)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The state of Illinois wants the public's help to return nearly a dozen Purple Heart medals to their rightful owners.

The medals are awarded to members of the U.S. military who are injured or killed while serving. Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs said the 11 medals each were left in a bank safe deposit box that went untouched for years. The treasurer's office received them as part of the office's unclaimed property program after the owners could not be found.

"These medals personify honor, sacrifice, and duty," Frerichs said. "They belong in the loving care of families rather than hidden inside our cold basement vault."

His office released a list Thursday of the last names associated with the safe deposit box, the date in which the medal was recorded with the state treasurer's office and the location of the bank. They include multiple banks across Illinois and one in Portland, Ore.

Frerichs asked anyone who may have a lead on locating a veteran or his or her family to contact his office.

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