Purple Heart recipient has military tribute stolen from Denver porch

DENVER -- A Denver veteran and purple heart recipient is asking for the safe return of a prized possession.

For years, a battle cross has sat on the front porch of Joel Hunt's Montbello neighborhood home. It features a pair of military boots, a fake gun mounted in concrete and a military helmet.

It disappeared Saturday morning.

"I was pulling out and next thing I know, there were army boots in the middle of the street, and I'm like, 'Those kind of look familiar,'" Hunt said.

Hunt says whoever stole the tribute left the boots, but kept the fake gun and the helmet.

"Pretty sure it was kids, pretty sure they looked at it and were like, 'Oh, it's a free gun -- we got to get it," Hunt said.

Hunt says the helmet is the one he wore on his third tour in Iraq, when a good friend lost his life.

"I'll never forget that day. That was the worst day of my life," he said.

Hunt said he was especially hurt to have the helmet's Kevlar cover stolen.

"I wore that during a situation, and now it's gone," he said.

Hunt suffered a traumatic brain injury while in Iraq, and says it's hard to comprehend why someone would steal from a disabled veteran.

He spent the week building a new one, with a replacement fake gun and helmet he bought online.

"I think I owe it to my comrades that didn't come home," Hunt said.

He's hoping whoever is responsible will return the helmet, no questions asked.

"Just do me a favor from this time on out: just remember that there are men and women that are dying every day to keep us free and to protect us, so that you don't have to go and do it," Hunt said.

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