Purple Heart makes emotional return to daughter of hero in Sonoma

Wayne Freedman Image
ByWayne Freedman KGO logo
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Purple Heart makes emotional return to daughter of hero in Sonoma
The family of Army Private Miguel A. Perez Loubriel, who died while fighting in Korea on Aug. 8, 1952, was reunited with a lost Purple Heart.

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- A personal piece of American History turned up in the baggage claim of the Sonoma County Airport and no one knew where it came from or who might have lost it.

RELATED: Sonoma Airport staff searches for family of hero who lost Purple Heart

ABC7 News was at the airport last week where there were many holiday travelers. A mystery was alsso at the airport, locked up in a safe seen in the office lost and found.

A Purple Heart was found in the baggage carousel going around and around with no one to claim it.

Airport Marketing Manager Gina Stocker used social media to begin a worldwide search and got more than 100,000 Facebook hits.

"We knew it has an owner," Stocker said. "We knew it needed to find its family."

After showing proper identification Leyda Aviles came to the airport office with her niece, Alda Perez, translating for her. "She was stressed out," Perez said. "I had the confidence they find it and get it back."

Every Purple Heart comes with a story. The medal belonged to Alviles' father Private Miguel Loubriel, who signed up to fight in Korea while he lived in Puerto Rico.

The day he died in action was the day Alviles was born. "I always have this with me," she said. "Where I am it goes with me."

How the Purple Heart got separated from a box with other medals, Leyda will never know. All that matters now is that she has it back.

"I am grateful all the way to the sky because you do not find things like that every day," she told ABC7 News.

Losing the Purple Heart would have been like losing her father twice.