ST. PAUL, Minn. – For decades, the family of Wiljo Matalamaki had been wondering where his Purple Heart medal went.
It took a random discovery at a dump and a chance meeting, but nearly half a century after it was lost, the medal will be returned to his relatives Sunday at Minnesota's Fort Snelling.
Matalamaki was shot down over Germany in 1944 during World War II and presumed dead. The medal disappeared after Wiljo's mother died in 1966.
Tami Heart's mother found it at a dump near her cabin in Wawina — a place she later discovered was Matalamaki's childhood home. Heart says she's forged a connection with Wiljo through his medal but it's time to return it.
Randy Heikkila is Matalamaki's nephew. He says he's happy to welcome the medal back.