WWII medal discovered in flea market record player, returned to soldier’s family

Nadine Kalinauskas

Last October, Al Packard purchased a record player from a flea market in Greenville, South Carolina.

Inside was a WWII Purple Heart, awarded to Sergeant James Carithers.

Packard wanted to reunite the medal with the soldier's family. His online search led him to 17-year-old Andrew Staton, a researcher for Genealogytrails.com.

"I'm most amazed by him that he actually took the time to start researching and start trying to piece it together himself, and he contacted us at Genealogy Trails, and we kind of took it from there," Staton told FOX Carolina.

Staton found a 2000 post on a genealogy website that mentioned Carithers by Arrista Pottle, Carither's niece. Her email address was included.

Staton relayed the information to Packard who then contacted Pottle. Pottle was elated by the news of the discovery — and that it was bring sent to her.

"Pottle received the Purple Heart in the mail on February 6, 2013, and was proudly able to share it with her sisters and family members, delighted to have the award in their possession," Staton said.

"It felt amazing to be a part of something like this," he told Patch. "I have seen one or two similar news stories before and I knew that it was a really special case that I would love to be a part of."

"I have never talked in person or over the phone with Arrista, James Carithers' niece, or anyone else in that family, but I have communicated by email with her," he added. "She says that it is absolutely amazing to have this award sent to her, when she never really knew that it existed. She said that her mom never really talked about James much, probably because it was still such a painful memory that he had died in the war."

After graduating from high school, Staton hopes to study history — and then a master's degree in library science — so he can best pursue a career in genealogy.