A Purple Heart medal was returned to a family of a World War II hero after it went missing over 50 years ago.

On Sunday, after a long search, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) presented a missing Purple Heart medal to the family of Bernard J. McNamara of the Bronx.

“It is a privilege and an honor to return this Purple Heart to the family of decorated World War II veteran, Bernard J. McNamara,” Schumer said. “McNamara was a true American hero and put his life on the line to serve this country.”

McNamara died in 1975. The medal was presented to his son, daughter, grandson, and granddaughter.

The medal was found in the dirt several years ago alongside a roadway in Rockland County. It contained no information other than that it belonged to someone by the name of “B.J. McNamara on December 9, 1943.”

According to Schumer’s office, over 1,000 McNamaras served in World War II, and dozens with the initials B.J.

"It’s unfortunate that the medal has gone missing for so long but I am humbled to have the opportunity to present it to the McNamara family," Schumer said. "This was a true case of Nancy Drew detective work by my office and I am grateful that my office successfully tracked down the family of its rightful owner so that Bernard’s legacy and story of heroism can live on."

The Purple Heart is awarded to service members who were wounded or killed in the hands of the enemy. Benard was given a Purple Heart after he was injured as a result of German Artillery fire during a defensive stand at Monte Sammurco in December of 1943.

The family believes the medal went missing in the 1960s. According to Bernard’s son Brian, the medal was given to children in the family to play with when it was lost. It may have ended up in Rockland because they had relatives in Nanuet.

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