Family reunites with Purple Heart lost decades ago

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Burke Beu always remembers his late father on Veterans Day.  But this year, it's really something remarkable.

"When I received the letter in the mail, it sent chills up my spine," he said.

Inside Sterling American Legion Post 296, they reunite the Denver, Colorado, man with his dad's missing Purple Heart.

"Written in loving memory of my father, James A. Beu," he read.

James Beu was wounded by a Japanese sniper during World War II.  Nobody knows how the medal vanished from the family home in Elgin, Illinois.

"When my father's parents died, it got lost," Burke recalled.

Just this summer, collectors spotted the Purple Heart at an estate sale in Sterling.

Julie Montanez, whose family lost two sons in World War II, explained the connection in a letter to Burke.

"It means so much to my family to be able to return something back to a family that has lost such an important part of history," she said.

Local researchers joined forces with the American Legion.  They found Burke through a Denver obituary.

On Tuesday, family members reunited from Iowa and Colorado to share the special moment.

Burke's cousin, Norman Beu, is a 27-year Air Force veteran.

"I'm so thankful for the goodness of people," he said. "And how much work it took to locate our family."

This emotional reunion is bittersweet.  James Beu died in 2000 at age 87.  His wife, Pat, died just a few months ago.

"My plan was to visit them at the cemetery," Burke said through tears. "But this is where they would want me to be."

For the Beu family and their new friends in Sterling, it's a Veterans Day to remember.

1 Comment

  • Nelson C Lum

    To the Editor, I would like your permission to publish this article in the American Legion Cathay Post No. 384 monthly Dispatch. Thank you.

    Nelson Lum
    1st Vice Commander

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