WWII aviator’s Purple Heart returned to Pa. family

    A Purple Heart given to a World War II aviator beheaded by Japanese forces in 1945 is back in the hands of the serviceman’s family after a ceremony in southeastern Pennsylvania.

    Gordon Yates’ 80-year-old sister, Alva Brickner, was presented with the medal on Saturday at the Narvon nursing home where she lives.

    The medal had been missing going back at least to 1979, when Yates’ father died.

    The exchange is the work of Purple Hearts Reunited, a nonprofit that works to return lost or stolen medals.

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    Yates was aboard a patrol bomber flying its 36th mission when it was shot down off the coast of southeast Asia. The crew fell into Japanese hands and Yates was executed.

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