Search is on after dog digs up Purple Heart medal in backyard

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DENVER -- A Purple Heart was dug up in a Denver backyard and research shows its owner has died.

Now a national organization is trying to find living relatives so his honor can be preserved through generations.

“There’s my dad.  And that`s his crew,” said Steve Jankousky, while showing pictures of his own father serving in the war.

Jankousky understands the courage and heroism bestowed upon service members awarded the military's purple heart.

“My dad was in WWII and he had a Purple Heart,” he said.

So 10 years ago, upon returning home from work, there was a new hole dug by his rescue lab "Smuckers.”

Jankousky  was amazed.

“I saw something shiny.  It was just caked in dirt and mud,” he said.

To find a medal that meant so much.

“We rinsed it off and turned it over, it had the soldiers name on it,” he said.

Engraved with the name of Cpl. Richmond Litman, a soldier, who like Jankousky's father, had died.

“My dad's gone and this guy is gone so I just image they are probably a lot alike,” Jankousky said through tears.

Unable to find the veteran's family.

“It`s kind of like finding a needle in a haystack,” he said.

The medal sat in an old tin cup bearing his father’s name,  until today.

“These medals do not belong in a pawn shop or in the ground in this case,” said Capt. Zachariah Fike, founder of Purple Hearts Reunited .

“He was a brother in arms.  He is part of our family,” said Fike who picked up the medal Sunday.

The purple heart was placed on Corporal Litman's grave and along with members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, a ceremony of honor was held.

“Not only was he an American hero, he shed his blood and earned this medal ,” said Fike.

The groups purpose is not just telling the man's story, but hoping someone steps forward so Corporal Litman’s legacy will forever live on.

“They belong to be with that family,” Fike said of military medals.

Adding, “This story will preserve his legacy, it will tell the Nation who he was and hopefully will forever have that place in our history.”

Purple Hearts reunited has been able to locate and return medals to more than 150 military families in just three years.

If you know anything about Cpl. Litman, you can contact the PHR Foundation at

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