WASHINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Ten years ago, a Washington man found a certificate for a Bronze Star Medal in a box that he purchased from an auction. It took him a decade to find the family of its rightful owner.
Paul Smith says there were several items in the box he purchased 10 years ago, but one of them stood out.
“There was a newspaper at the bottom of the box and I picked up that newspaper just to see the date on it and when I did that I spotted this Bronze Star document laying on the bottom of it,” said Smith.
The Bronze Star Medal is a United States decoration awarded to members of the Armed Forces for either heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in combat. It is the fourth-highest ranking award a service member can receive.
The recipient of the certificate, Melvin Kuehn, is a World War II veteran. Smith, being a veteran himself, immediately tried to track him down.
“I’d searched obituaries I’d searched just on Google for years and never found anything,” said Smith.
After a decade and still no leads, he eventually found a man on Facebook named Michael Kuehn.
“I saw a Facebook message request from Paul Smith and I normally don’t check those, I might check those twice a year. And I just happened to glance at that the other night and ironically there’s this picture of my father’s document and I was just blown away,” said Kuehn.
“I can’t tell you how happy I was that finally, this long journey was over searching for the home of this Bronze Star recipient,” said Smith.
Smith and Kuehn live 15 minutes from each other, a ten-year mystery solved in a span of a few miles.
Kuehn says he is forever grateful for what Smith did.
“Thank God for him, the world needs more people like Paul Smith,” said Kuehn.
Kuehn says the medal that goes along with the certificate is still missing Smith said he’s going to help look for that as well, but this time he won’t do it alone.