CARROLLTON Each morning, Dayle Kruse swims at the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Natatorium for about 90 minutes. During one of these sessions, a burglar broke into his home and stole the Korean War veteran's Purple Heart, a symbol of honor, service and sacrifice certainly not meant for thieving hands.

"It's weird," said Kruse. "What would it mean to somebody, other than somebody who has earned it?"

Kruse received the medal in 1951, after he was hit in the shoulder by shrapnel from a mortar round. The former Army infantryman feared his medal was lost forever.

"I thought, once you get it, you get it," said Kruse. "And if it's gone, it's gone."

Kruse was pessimistic. But he contacted the office of his congressman, Kenny Marchant, hoping some way, somehow, his medal could be replaced.

"It was kind of traumatic for me," said Kruse. "I was going to leave it to my daughter."

A Marchant staffer called the National Personnel Records Center and got results. Last week, Kruse received a replacement Purple Heart. But that's not all. The Center also sent him four other medals he earned, but never received.

"It was great," said Kruse. "I felt wonderful."

Kruse's frustration has turned into gratitude: He once again has the medal that was designed to show a nation's gratefulness to him.


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