Stolen WWII medals returned

November 29, 2011 1:43:10 PM PST
The WWII medals that were stolen from a man's office mysteriously reappeared Tuesday morning on his office's doorstep.

A Battle of the Bulge hero's medals were stolen earlier this month from his grandson's office on Long Island.

There has been an outpouring of sympathy and Monday there were new honors for the World War II veteran.

Not a day goes by without Jim McGuigan thinking about his grandfather's sacrifice in World War II.

Francis McGuigan fought and nearly died in the Battle of the Bulge.

His picture, his purple heart, and his silver star were mounted in a box on Jim's office wall in Bohemia until last month.

"That's the only thing we have left of him. That was what annoyed me more than anything," Jim McGuigan said.

Someone broke into his office and stole the priceless box.

It happened in the middle of the night.

Somebody smashed the window, climbed inside, and grabbed the medals off the wall.

They didn't take anything else.

"Your grandfather was and is a hero," Congressman Steve Israel said.

It turns out; Jim's grandfather was entitled to even more medals than he'd received in the first place.

Monday, Long Island Congressman Steve Israel presented Jim with a brand new shadowbox with brand new medals.

"I don't know what kind of coward would snatch a medal that was secured by sacrifice," Israel said.

These days, he says there seems to be something of an epidemic of this type of theft.

The very same week as McGuigan's case, someone stole another purple heart from a veteran in nearby Babylon.

Israel had asked the Department of Defense to investigate.

Jim was still missing the dogtags his grandfather wore as he scaled the cliffs of Normandy.

"You can't insure that stuff. There is nothing that can be replaced like that," McGuigan said.

But Tuesday morning, he got everything back. According to Suffolk County Police, the war memorabilia thief evidently had a change of heart, following Eyewitness News' coverage of the crime.

Jim says he'll display them away from the window in a spot where he can honor the legacy of his grandfather and the greatest generation.