Purple Heart medal returned to East Meadow family of deceased World War II hero Staff Sgt. Arnold Haapala

A Purple Heart medal was returned to the East Meadow family of a World War II hero today. In 1941, 27-year-old Arnold Haapala left his home in Elmont to join the army. He died on the beaches of Normandy.

News 12 Staff

Jul 2, 2013, 2:37 AM

Updated 3,981 days ago

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Purple Heart medal returned to East Meadow family of deceased World War II hero Staff Sgt. Arnold Haapala

A Purple Heart medal was returned to the East Meadow family of a World War II hero today.

In 1941, 27-year-old Arnold Haapala left his home in Elmont to join the army. He died on the beaches of Normandy.

Staff Sgt. Haapala's niece, Carol Pacifico, never met her uncle. She says that about a year ago, she thought of him and wondered what happened to his Purple Heart medal.

Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) says the medal was turned in to his office after an estate sale. A man from Connecticut approached the congressman's case worker for veterans, saying that an estate being liquidated and sold off included a Purple Heart.

Courtney says he started looking for the man who received this military honor on Ancestry.com, where his staff located Staff Sgt. Haapala's brother.

Haapala's brother is deceased, but the town clerk from when he lived in Vermont gave the congressman Carol's information. Courtney presented Pacifico and her brother, Edward, with their uncle's medal today.

Pacifico says it was a happy day for her and her family, however she says she wishes her mom, who died in 2008, could have been here.

Now that Staff Sgt. Haapala's family has the Purple Heart, the family members say they hope to figure out how it ended up in Connecticut.


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