Lost: Unknown Found: 1999 Returned: 01 AUG 2013 Location: Boston, MA
Long Lost Purple Heart returns to Everett
On 01 August 2013, a long lost Purple Heart belonging to TSGT Everett Lawrence MacDonald, a Radio Operator on a B-24 Bomber who gave his life in the name of Freedom on 13 September 1944 during WWII was returned to his family.
While on their 50th and last mission, the men of Hell’s Angel, a aircraft assigned to the 831st Bomber Squadron, 485th Bomber Group took a direct hit from German ground artillery fire which killed TSGT MacDonald instantly. Only one of the remaining crew was able to escape the plane, which crashed over Auschwitz, Poland. For TSGT MacDonald’s service to our country, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, and the Purple Heart.
The villagers of Auschwitz buried the dead Americans and, even though verbally abused and threatened by German soldiers, decorated those graves with wreaths daily. The local citizens marked the grave with a wooden cross and a small fence in appreciation of their sacrifice.
Everett married before leaving for the war, a woman who had previous children. After news of her husband’s death and tragic funeral, she held onto his medals all her life. It wasn’t until 1999 after she passed, that her son Walter Reitz found the medals amongst her belongings. Through another family member, Purple Hearts Reunited was contacted to assist with the search.
Everett’s medals were returned to his brother Clyde MacDonald and his son at a public ceremony at graveside at the Glenwood Cemetery in Everett, Massachusetts. In attendance were members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Everett’s family, and Army Captain Zachariah Fike from Purple Hearts Reunited.
Everett’s grave can be found in the VFW Lot, Grave 22 at the Glenwood Cemetery, located at 199 Washington Avenue, Chelsea, MA 02150.