SANDUSKY, Ohio — Medals awarded to America’s veterans and other pieces of military memorabilia are being bought and sold online every day, and it’s the mission of one local non-profit organization to return the symbols of sacrifice to the veterans or their surviving family members.
The group, Purple Hearts Reunited, is paying tribute to a local family with a history of service that has been forgotten over time.
When the U.S. Army fought in the battlefields of France in World War I, Private Frank Bintz of Sandusky served his country and when he came home, Bintz married and had four children. He died in 1958 at what is now the Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky and is buried in Castalia.
Frank’s son, John Bintz, joined the Army in the 1960’s and served during the Vietnam War. He died in 1987 and is buried near his father.
The military identification tags of Frank and John Bintz somehow ended up in the hands of a collector, who tried to sell the tags online to the highest bidder.
At the Ohio Veterans Home, they refer to the practice as stolen valor.
“I don’t think that people should put any medals, dog tags for veterans, online to try to make a buck, it’s wrong,” said U.S. Army Veteran Steve Humerickhouse.
The dog tags of Frank and John Bintz were rescued from the online auction block by Purple Hearts Reunited, and when the organization could not identify any next of kin, they decided the military museum at the Veterans Home would be a fitting place of honor for the lasting symbols of a patriotic father and son.
“It’s incredible, you get to bring both a tangible piece of their family member home, but also a lot of intangible pieces come along with it,” said PHR Director of Operations, Jessica Jaggars.
Even though they are no longer with us, the service of Frank and John Bintz to their country so long ago will not be forgotten, as a display of their tags hangs in a place of honor in the museum.
“It’s great to rescue these things from the obscurity that they can fall into. They mean a lot to the people who share the service,” said Sean McCarthy of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services.
Since 2012, Purple Hearts Reunited has returned over 650 lost medals to veterans or their surviving family members in 42 states.