BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Saturday Congressman Brian Higgins presented a Purple Heart certificate from 1944 and a Purple Heart Medal to the family of a World War II Prisoner of War.
Early in 2019 the United States Postal Service discovered original Purple Heart documents from 1944 which were meant for the family of Corporal Henry Mazurkiewicz.
After months of searching, Mazurkiewicz's family was located and the original Purple Heart documents issued 75 years ago as well as the Purple Heart Medal were presented to Mazurkiewicz's nieces: Jackie Young, Holly Proper, Kim Cuddihy, Nancy Stonebraker & Judy Friel.
“My heart is truly warm and I am very excited that this family will be united with something so special,” said USPS Western NY District Manager Jean Lovejoy. “Our postal family, including the numerous military veterans in our ranks, our proud that this very special delivery will make it home to its rightful owners because of the unwavering commitment of so many to champion the effort
Mazurkiewicz was born in 1917 in Buffalo and enlisted in the United States Army in 1940, he was a member of the 31st Infantry Regiment.
The 31st Infantry Regiment covered the withdrawal of American and Philippine soldiers from Manila on the days following the attacks at Pearl Harbor.
In April 1942 the 31st Infantry Regiment, along with the Allied forces, surrendered to the Japanese as part of the Bataan Defense Force.
After the surrender, thousands of captives were forced by the Japanese to endure the Bataan Death March.
Mazurkiewicz was deemed a Prisoner of War and died in captivity in May 1942, he was awarded the Purple Heart for his service and sacrifice.
His family was also presented a framed certificate from President Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1944.