Purple Heart makes its way back home

Published 9:18 am Thursday, October 6, 2016

Kerry Murdoch knew what he had to do when he saw it in a box in Alan Allman’s jewelry store in Mooresville.

He had to find where it belonged.

It was a Purple Heart, sold to the jeweler for $40 in a box of items from an estate. To his luck, there was a name engraved on the back: “Melvin G. Markland.”

Knowing of no Marklands in that part of Iredell County, Murdoch, a Vietnam War veteran, started searching.

He offered to buy the Purple Heart, but Allman would have nothing to do with that. Just find the proper home, he said.

He went on the internet and found the name came back to a Mocksville man, who had been killed in World War II. But who were his relatives? There are quite a few Marklands in Davie County.

Murdoch contacted Megan Williams, Davie’s Veterans Service Officer. She thought, who knows a lot of people, and thought of friend, Brent Shoaf, Davie’s Register of Deeds. Shoaf mentioned it to his mother, who mentioned it at church to Tama Markland O’Mara.

O’Mara remembered Melvin G. Markland, her father’s brother who had lived with the family while she was a toddler.

“I remember them doing a military funeral. They folded the flag and had given it to my grandmother,” O’Mara said. That funeral was several years after Markland’s death in 1944, in France or Belgium, just months after he had been sent overseas.

Markland had lived with O’Mara’s parents – Louie O. and Sally B. Lyons Markland, while her father worked in the shipyards in Norfolk, Va. Two other brothers were also serving in the war.

Melvin Markland went into the service in January, 1944. He was killed in action in September. He is buried in the Elbaville United Methodist Church cemetery.

She remembers her father taking his brother to Salisbury to enlist, and the day the Army officials came with the news he had been killed.

That lost Purple Heart? O’Mara doesn’t know if it ever made it to anyone in the family, or how it ended up in a $40 box of estate items in Mooresville.

“It is in good condition,” she said. It will be given to a grandson who was in the military and knows the significance of the award.

Murdoch, who is thankful he never qualified for a Purple Heart, is just thankful it found its rightful home.