Dog digs up Purple Heart in backyard

Posted at 8:13 AM, Mar 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-23 08:13:41-04

Denver, Colorado - The Purple Heart is awarded to service members who have been wounded or made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

So when a dog dug up a Purple Heart in a backyard in Colorado, it was important to get it back to its rightful owner.

Mark Taylor shows how a group called Purple Hearts Reunited is working to do just that.

It's the oldest military award still given to service members, a Purple Heart. Each one telling a story of a life lost, or blood shed in action.

Now, after perhaps decades, the story behind this one is being told once again.

It belonged to Corporal Richmond Litman. He was a Korean war veteran.

Captain Zachariah Fike with Purple Hearts Reunited says the story starts in the 1950s with Corporal Litman injured in action. He went on to marry and live in a Denver neighborhood. He died in 1990, but somehow, his Purple Heart ended up buried in the yard of a Denver couple.

About 10 years ago, their dog, Smuckers, dug a Purple Heart Medal of all things, out of the ground. Now, Fike, along with the Military Order of the Purple Heart are searching for Litman's family.

"One of the important issues for us, is not only to take care of our country's veterans, but to keep the history of the medal alive."

Not much is known about Corporal Litman right now, but early research shows that he came from a military family, with his brothers serving in Vietnam, World War II, and Korea.

As they search for surviving family, Fike adds that Litman's tale is not only one of wartime bravery, but also of a man leading change.

"He was also listed as African-American. Back in that time, there was still racial tensions in the military and in the country. He led that forward motion to give them the rights that they deserved not only as soldiers, but as Americans."