A Jewish woman whose father died fighting in the Second World War only months before she was born received his medals, including a Purple Heart and a Silver Star, for the first time Sunday, according to the UK’s Daily Mail.
Hyla Merin’s father, Hyman Markel, a rabbi’s son, died protecting others against German troops just five months before she was born. He was killed on May 3, 1945, in Italy’s Po Valley while fighting German troops as an officer with the 88th Division of the 351st Infantry Regiment.
According to research done by Purple Hearts Reunited – a charity which reunites families with lost medals – he was awarded the medals posthumously after sacrificing himself for the sake of others in the battlefield.
Merin’s mother, Celia Markel, moved to Los Angeles in the 1960s and stored a box of precious mementos of her late husband – including the medals – in a laundry room locker of her apartment building.
They remained there forgotten about until September last year when the manager of the building stumbled upon them and contacted the veteran’s charity.
Merin wrote on Facebook about the shock of receiving the call.
“OMG! Got a call this am from the apt manager where we lived when I was a kid . My aunt moved out 3 years ago. They opened a locker and found pictures of my dad, his purple heart, and other special memorabilia ! Can’t wait to see them tomorrow morning! I cried with happiness and anticipation all morning!”
“I don’t have a lot of pictures, I don’t have a lot of stories, and I’ve always been a crier,” she explained.
Merin said she already has plans for what she’s going to do with the medals.”It just confirms what a great man he was. He gave up his life for our country and our freedom. I’ll put it up in my house as a memorial to him and to those who served.”