JOLIET – Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs today returned a Purple Heart Medal to the family of First Lieutenant Walter B. Ingledew, Jr. who bravely served and was killed in action in Europe during WWII.
Accepting the Purple Heart was Barbara Martens, Ingledew’s niece. The reunification of the medal occurred at a ceremony at the Stone City VFW Post 2199 in Joliet.
“Returning this Purple Heart to the family of WWII veteran Walter B. Ingledew, Jr. is an incredible honor,” Frerichs said. “We must never forget the sacrifices made by men and women who have served our country, and we must never lose sight of the true meaning behind these medals and the people who earn them.”
The Purple Heart is one of the most recognized and respected medals awarded to a member of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Ingledew, a native of Chicago, enlisted in the Army Air Forces in 1942, serving in the 428th Fighter Squadron, 474th Fighter Group, Ninth Army Air Force as a Fighter Pilot. He was active over Normandy on D-Day and received his Purple Heart after he was killed in action when his plane was shot down over France on August 14, 1944. He was 23 years old.
Ingledew’s Purple Heart Medal was initially placed in a bank safe deposit box belonging to his family that was later lost and was surrendered to the treasurer’s office as unclaimed property. In addition to the Purple Heart, Ingledew’s two Air Medals with four oak leaf clusters, received for acts of heroism or meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight, and two Campaign Stars were also returned.
This is the seventh time Frerichs’ office has reunited a Purple Heart with the soldier or the soldier’s family. In each case, the medal was surrendered from a bank safe deposit box and treasury staff used public records to locate the soldier or the soldier’s family.
Still, the treasurer’s office has more than 100 unclaimed military medals and decorations. Military medals are kept until the owners or family members are found.
The treasurer’s office is the custodian of unclaimed property, including lost bank accounts, insurance policy proceeds, and forgotten safe deposit boxes. Items are surrendered after private entities typically tried for at least three years to locate the owners. Because thousands of items are surrendered each year, residents should check I-Cash every six months. Visit www.illinoistreasurer.gov/ICASH for more information.
Frerichs’ office never charges money to search for unclaimed property.