Online auction winner returns Purple Heart, Bronze Star to Centennial woman

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CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Imagine your surprise if you logged onto the internet and saw someone trying to auction off your family heirlooms.  It happened to a woman in Centennial.  Her late father's war medals - for sale online, to the highest bidder.

Walter Train earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star in World War II.  He was injured on Leyte Island in the Philippines while serving with the US Army.

"They were in a church, and the Japanese were firing on them and they were stuck in the church for two days. And he was wounded, and they put him on a hospital ship home," his daughter, Linda Train Frisina, told FOX 31.

Walter died back in 1991, and his daughter says those medals have been missing pretty much ever since. Until they mysteriously showed up - on the internet - days ago.

"My cousin Joy called me, and said 'Linda, on eBay are medals of your father that somebody is selling," Train Frisina said.

She was shocked, checked the website, and couldn't believe her eyes.

"And there they are, and (the seller) writes this little blurb about he got these medals at an estate sale," Train Frisina said.

She didn't want her family heirlooms in the hands of a stranger.  So she reached out to the seller and tried to reason with him.

"These are my father`s medals, and I want to work something out with you, you know?"

It didn't work.  He was selling them, no matter what.  So she called the website.  They said, they'd stop the sale - if she filed a police report.

"So I called the police, and the police said, can`t do it, we don`t know where these medals are because he died in 1991 it's 20 odd years ago. Did he give them away.  Did he sell them?" she said.

Linda had two choices: try to buy the medals herself, or watch them go to someone else.

"I didn`t have the money to make a bid.  I just didn`t have it and neither did my cousin.  So we just, we watched it tick away. And it just, it was horrible, it really made me sad," Train Frisina said.

But imagine her surprise when she got a message from that winning bidder, saying he was sending her the medals. Sure enough, they showed up last Thursday.

"So I came home, and there they were, the medals - his medals!" Train Frisina said.

"I can`t explain it.  I was so happy, and I thought why did he do it?"

We called Curtis Johnson in Florida.  He spent $300 on the medals, because he says he had to.

"I felt that it had been many, many years that they'd been lost, and I just couldn't allow that to happen, and so I just make a quick decision to just go ahead and purchase them for her," Johnson said.

"I cried. I started to cry. I said to my son, 'I can`t believe this man would do such a sweet thing. It`s so sweet.' I just couldn`t believe it," Train Frisina said.

For a great grandma on a fixed income, it is a priceless artifact.  And a reminder - there really are some great people out there.

"I`ve never had anything like this happen to me before," Train Frisina said.

She says she's not sure how the medals wound up in the hands of someone outside the family in the first place.  She's just glad they're back with family now.  And she hopes, when she has the resources, to pay it forward - the same her eBay hero did.

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