Media Advisory: Stolen Medal Returned to Family after Nearly Six Decades

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Media Advisory



Jan. 28, 2014

                         Media Contact:


                         Anna Lewicki Long                   


                         Communications Director     

                         (651) 757-1536                        




Stolen Medal Returned to Family after Nearly Six Decades

The family of a Veteran killed in action during the Korean War will be presented with a Purple Heart Medal thought to be lost for decades. Commissioner Larry Shellito with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs will present the medal to family members during a small ceremony Wednesday, Jan. 29 at 1 p.m.  


George J. Johnson died July 28, 1950 in the Battle of Hwanggan. He was only 17 years old at the time of his death. His remains were returned to Fulda, Minn. for burial, and his parents were presented with a Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart Medal for his bravery. The medals were later stolen, however, during a burglary of the shop Johnson’s father owned.


Last year the Purple Heart resurfaced in box of “junk” on a farm in Otsego, purchased by Mark and Kristen Kasper. The only identifier on the medal was an engraving of the name “George J. Johnson.” The Kasper’s contacted Al Zdon with the American Legion, who passed the medal to MDVA. With help from the Totzke Funeral Home officials at MDVA tracked down Johnson’s family to inform them of the recovery. Although Johnson’s parents are both deceased, his brother William Johnson will be present to accept the medal at the ceremony.



  • Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Larry Shellito
  • William Johnson, brother of deceased Korean War Veteran
  • The Rochester Korean War Veterans Club will provide the honor guard for the ceremony



Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014
1 p.m.


Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Building, 1 Federal Drive, Fort Snelling, St. Paul, MN 55111
The ceremony will take place in the ground floor lobby area in front of the American Legion and MDVA offices. Media and other attendees should plan additional time for building security.


Photos of the medal are available on our Multimedia Page