Brothers reunited with veteran dad's Purple Heart 35 years after his death

HOBOKEN, New Jersey (WABC) -- More than three decades after their father's death, a pair of brothers in New Jersey got back a piece of his legacy.

Brothers Jerry and Mal Deener have always wondered about their father's time at war.

"He was wounded very badly in the war and never talked about it," Mal said.

In 1945, Harry Deener, part of the 242 Infantry Regiment, was hit in the chest by a German bullet. He was awarded a Purple Heart, but his sons never saw it.

After their father's death 35 years ago, that Purple Heart was nowhere to be seen - until Jerry got a recent call.

"Are you Jerry Deener, do you have a father named Harry, was he in the war, was he wounded?' Jerry recalled.

That call was from Purple Hearts Reunited - an organization that returns lost or stolen medals to veterans and military families.

It changed everything as the Deener brothers learned a kind step-family member found the belongings in an attic.

On Wednesday, in an intimate ceremony in front of their father's childhood home in Maplewood, the brothers held their father's Purple Heart and his tags.

"To get this back now is very special," Mal said.

"We learned today more than we ever did," Jerry said.

They even took a walk down memory lane.

"He insisted on the day he came from the Army that he wanted to walk up this street," Jerry said.

Together they remembered a man, a husband, a father and a true American.

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