LISBON, Ohio (WKBN) — For one family of a World War II veteran, it was an extra-special Memorial Day weekend when a local veteran reunited them with their uncle’s lost Purple Heart meal.
Nate Railing served 10 years in the Army and is now retired. He spends his Fridays at the Rogers Flea Market and never imagined one of those trips would lead him to return a piece of family history.
“Came across a tote from one of the vendors and noticed a tattered box with a Purple Heart laying inside,” Railing said.
The engraving on the back read “Nicholas P. Wargo.”
Railing put out a call on Facebook — within two days, Wargo’s family was found.
“I realized that this was indeed my uncle’s Purple Heart medal,” Michele Wargo Motavalli said.
Nicholas Wargo — or as his family calls him, “Uncle Nick” — was from McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, about an hour southeast of where Railing found the Purple Heart.
He was an accomplished amateur boxer, beloved by his community, and had Olympic aspirations. He was going to attend college before the war, and in 1944, he was fatally wounded in battle.
“Awards of this magnitude always have, usually, a terrible story that goes along with them,” Railing said. “That’s our brothers and sisters, so it means a lot to me to be able to give this back to the family.”
Railing knew he had to put together something special to return the heirloom.
About a dozen members of Nicholas Wargo’s family, spanning generations, came to Lisbon for the re-dedication.
Wargo’s nieces said Railing’s effort and dedication to returning the Purple Heart mean everything to them.
“He’s always been very special to our family, and we really did not know what happened to the medal,” Motavalli said. “Just to have it back, just means so much to us.”
“It’s such a precious heirloom and part of our history,” Christine Wargo Miller, Wargo’s niece, said . “We were just thrilled and amazed that somebody was so generous that they would seek us out when it was found.”