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Mystery Purple Heart belonging to Buffalo native returned to family in ceremony

Purple Heart certificate.jpg
Posted at 6:29 PM, Aug 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-03 18:37:39-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The City of Good Neighbors helped reunite a family with a long lost military honor.

A Purple Heart was first awarded to Buffalo native, Chief Petty Officer Adam Strauch, 70 years ago.

Strauch fought in World War I, and was killed in World War II.

The award then spent decades in a Buffalo attic, before it was finally rediscovered.

The Purple Heart, which was found in a home on Bidwell Parkway, were dropped off at Congressman Higgin's office.

The certificate and letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt were returned to the relatives of Chief Petty Officer Adam Strauch.

During a ceremony at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park, Higgins presented Alice Garbarinia, who is the niece to Strauch.

In 1931, shortly after WWII ended, Strauch enlisted in the United States Navy.

During the war, Strauch participated in the "Battle of Leyte Gulf", considered to be the largest naval Battle of the War.

It was during this battle that a Japanese aircraft slipped through the defenses and bombed the ship he was on: "The USS Princeton", in 1944 at 9:38 a.m.

Congressman Biran Higgins (NY-26) said, "The Princeton was struck by a 550-pound bomb. It tore through the body of the ship, setting fires and triggering fatal explosions. A number of nearby ships attempted rescue efforts. However, the Princeton was unable to be saved and sank around 76 o'clock that evening."

"I just want to say, while this is a fascinating story, and it's beautiful, my favorite part is that it all started from being found in an attic in Buffalo and it really is the City of Good Neighbors," Strauch's neice, Alice Garbarinia said.

Higgins' office was able to find the information available about the fallen soldier by piecing together a family tree.

With the help of Western New Yorkers, they were able to do genealogy research to help locate and confirm his family members.

Higgins also reached out to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, and they were able to expedite a request to enter Strauch into the Hall of Honor.