A Purple Heart and other military medals belonging to a Kansas soldier killed in World War II were returned to his family during a ceremony Saturday at the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial.
Capt. Zachariah Fike, founder of Purple Hearts Reunited, presented the medal awarded decades ago to Pfc. Alvie Leroy Scott to Scott’s niece, Mary Strotkamp, during the ceremony.
“Alvie is happy today. He’s happy his medals are home with his family,” Fike said during the half-hour ceremony.
Scott, who was born in Harvey County, Kan., was serving with the 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 17th Airborne Division, when he was killed in January 1945 in battle in Belgium. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and also had been awarded several other honors, including the Bronze Star and the WWII Victory Medal, according to Vermont-based Purple Hearts Reunited, a nonprofit that locates lost or stolen military medals and returns them to veterans or their families.
After Scott was killed, his wife, Esther, kept several of his things meticulously maintained, including his medals, the flag presented to her at his funeral and the telegram she received informing her of his death.
Fike’s mother, Joyce Fike, found those items and others in an antique shop in Watertown, N.Y., and bought them for $500. Zac Fike located Scott’s Kansas family, who said they’d been searching for years for information about Scott. Strotkamp, of Centralia, said she never knew her Uncle Alvie, but that her father had spoken of him.
“We had no idea. What a beautiful ceremony,” Strotkamp said.
Purple Hearts Reunited returned Scott’s Purple Heart and its certificate framed with other medals and honors Scott had been awarded. Fike also presented the family with $1,000 for Strotkamp’s grandson’s college education.
Strotkamp said her family had often heard about her father’s little brother and tried to learn about him over the years, but she never had the chance to know him. She said Alvie Scott enlisted in Kansas and was sent for paratrooper training to New York, where he met Esther. Strotkamp said the two were only married briefly before he was shipped off to war.
“This helps us understand our family history better,” she said. “It’s good to know you come from somebody that brave, that dedicated to his country.”
She said her father, who has since died, adored his little brother and would have loved to have been at the ceremony.
“My only regret is that my dad didn’t live to see this happen,” she said.