Volunteers for Vermont’s annual Green Up Day made an odd discovery when they looked inside a maple tree: wrapped in plastic inside an old VCR cassette was the World War II Good Conduct Medal for a Nebraska man who died 32 years ago.
The 1945 medal had belonged to Robert Gene Woody, who served on the USS Hughes, a Navy destroyer that saw action at the Battle of Midway and Guadalcanal. The medal turned up in the town of Milton. The cassette in the tree was also hiding a treasure trove of copper coins and other military medals -- a Veterans of Foreign Wars medal from the 1930s, a Spanish American War medal, a woman's Relief Corps medal and a Civil War pay stub for Pvt. Lewis N. Lucas of the Vermont 2nd Light Artillery. Price stickers were attached to the medals.
"I can only speculate,” Capt. Zachariah Fike, founder of the Vermont-based nonprofit Purple Hearts Reunited, told the Lincoln Journal Star. "But the way they were priced, like a trade-show, I imagine some kid stole the medals from a vendor, got nervous, and hid them in that tree."
Fike tracked down Woody’s 62-year-old son Myron Gene Woody in Sidney, Neb., and told him about the find.
Robert Woody spent 30 years in the Navy after enlisting in 1942. The son told the Journal Star he’s looking forward to the return of his father’s medal.
“When my dad passed away, I got an old Timex watch and a few shirts, and that was all,” Myron told the newspaper. “This would be one of the very few things of his past that I’d have.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.