Sailor’s Purple Heart found at Goodwill in Tucson

Goodwill Store Searching for Family of Navy Sailor Whose Purple Heart May Have Been Mistakenly Donated.

Goodwill employees sort through thousands of items before anything reaches the storeroom floor and sometimes the best finds don’t reach the shelves.

“What is it?” is a common question among associates, according to Talon Mills. Following the advice of his now wife, Mills has now worked for Goodwill more than a year. With that much experience, he can help the newer hires.

“He’s always asking me what stuff is as he’s rolling it out to the floor,” Mills said. “And I know what it is, so that’s kind of cool.”

Mills knew just what he had when he opened a faded box last month at the Goodwill Store and Donation Center on Houghton Road, south of Golf Links Road. It prompted more questions though.

“Did the recipient of the medal give it away?” he wondered about the Purple Heart awarded to a Navy sailor named Nick D’Amelio. “Did their family (give it away), not knowing it was in the box?”

He gave the Purple Heart to a manager and the search began for its rightful owner.

D’Amelio, Jr. enlisted in the Navy and served in World War II. He never made it home to California to receive the Purple Heart he was awarded. He was considered lost at sea on Sept. 6, 1943. The destroyer on which he served was attacked off the coast of Guadalcanal a year earlier.

“People give away amazing stuff,” Mills said. “It just blows my mind what people give away.”

Now Goodwill of Southern Arizona wants to give something back. Staff hopes to track down loved ones of D’Amelio. Anyone who might know of any connections to the family is encouraged to call (520) 623-5174 x 7039.

I am a British journalist, writer, wanderer and part-time optimist with a giant-sized carbon footprint.

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