A Texas Bay Area family has been reunited with their late father’s Purple Heart thanks to the perseverance and detective work of a League City police officer.
About a year ago, while assisting during a court-ordered destruction of unclaimed property, LCPD Detective Gary Yates discovered a Purple Heart. The medal, which had been seized during a search warrant, had gone unclaimed since 2012 after numerous attempts to contact the family had gone unanswered.
“Knowing what it was, and knowing that it probably meant something to somebody, I took it, and I knew I couldn’t see it destroyed,” said Detective Yates.
Yates then put his police training to work, and after searching several databases, he discovered that someone had reported a stolen Purple Heart from a car burglary in 2008. It turns out the medal belonged to Navy Veteran Albert Whatley. Whatley, who served in the Pacific during WWII, passed away some years ago, but his son Stephen Whatley was still actively looking for the stolen medal.
Whatley and his family, who live in the Bay Area, were reunited with their father’s Purple Heart at the annual League City Salute to Heroes banquet on Friday, April 27.
“It feels great to get something back that emotionally attaches me to my dad,” said Whatley. “It’s a piece of him.”