Purple Heart found in Tucson returned to veteran's family - Tucson News Now

Purple Heart found in Tucson returned to veteran's family

Source: Purple Hearts Reunited framed Col. Lyon's medal with his photo (Source: Tucson News Now). Source: Purple Hearts Reunited framed Col. Lyon's medal with his photo (Source: Tucson News Now).
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

More than 76 years after he made the rank of colonel, Leon Elie Lyon's family once again haS the Purple Heart he earned for his service in World War I.

An officer with the Tucson Police Department recovered the military honor from a local pawnshop, according to a release from the department.

It stated that the organization Purple Hearts Reunited helped TPD tracked down Lyon's family so they could return the Purple Heart.

Glen Lyon, the colonel's grandson, accepted the medal Wednesday, March 28 at TPD's substation on West Miracle Mile. He said the photo that's framed with the Purple Heart is the only picture they have of Col. Lyon.

"My grandfather, I never met...which is pretty sad," he said. "But I'm really very happy that we got the Purple Heart back."

He considered the odds of ever seeing it again to be one in a million. Purple Hearts Reunited is better than that, with at least 450 medals returned to their rightful families.

The nonprofit provided the following information about Lyon's life and service:

"Colonel Leon Elie Lyon (Service Number: 0-2729) was born 27 September 1873 in Louisiana. He studied at Tulane University and earned a degree in Science in 1894. In the Rank of Captain, he entered active duty on 08 May 1917 for service in World War I as an Engineer Officer. By June that year, he was promoted to Major and 13 days later, promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.

During his service in France, he was wounded and received the Purple Heart. He would survive the war and was honorably discharged on 15 October 1919. He came back into the service on 22 September 1920 and remained in service till the early 40s, making the rank of Colonel on 01 February 1942.

He married Emily Cornelia Knapp Lyon on 04 July 1907 and she died young in 1938. They had one child, Colonel Oliver Day Lyon. Oliver served in the U.S. Air Force and saw service in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Oliver married Mildred Irene Fowler and they had two children, Glen Curtis Lyon and Portia Lea Lyon. Colonel Leon E. Lyon passed on 09 December 1943. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery."

Officer Jim Caccavale, the officer who first noticed the Purple Heart in reports from local pawn shops, said he's already found another Purple Heart with some other medals. Lyon's was sold for $20 with a couple ribbons, while the most recent group of military decorations fetched a final price of $120.

Caccavale said no charges were filed in either case, but anyone caught selling/pawning a service medal that doesn't belong to family could be held responsible.

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