JACKSONVILLE — A World War II era Purple Heart lost for decades is finally being returned to the relatives of its rightful owner.
Yeoman Third Class Olin White was killed when his destroyer, the USS Drexler, sank after being hit by two kamikaze pilots in 1945 during the battle of Okinawa. Verl Matthews, Commander of Military Order of the Purple Heart Beirut Memorial Chapter 642, said White's body was never found.
"The ship was just laying dead in the water and then the second kamikaze pilot just hit it dead on and the ship sank in less than a minute," said Matthews.
A Jacksonville woman recently found his medal and gave it to the order which tracked down White's only living relative.
White's niece lives near Charlotte and Dan Story, the member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart who located her, said she was was overjoyed when hearing about the medal.
"When I talked to her on the phone she got very emotional with me. [She was] very excited that it's coming home, very thankful," said Story.
Members are traveling to China Grove, NC this weekend to return the medal in person to White's niece.