CITY OF NEWBURGH - Frank Piranio’s family has his Purple Heart medal back.
It’s not the original. That was lost in a move some years ago.
But a replacement was presented Monday in a small, private ceremony in the Newburgh district office of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.
Piranio, an Army sergeant from Warwick, died June 28, 2014 at the age of 91.
His widow, Miriam Piranio, and daughter Rosemary Matthews were there to accept it on his behalf.
It was a ceremony perfectly suited to Piranio’s quiet, humble nature. “He wasn’t a showy person, but he would have appreciated this,” Miriam Piranio said.
The two women had been working for more than a year to get the medal replaced, but without success. Finally, someone referred them to Maloney and his staff.
A key problem apparently was re-establishing the trail that led to Piranio earning the medal in World War II.
Matthews said her dad never talked much about his time in the war from 1943-45.
They know he landed on Omaha Beach in France the day after D-Day in 1944.
That in itself was a little unnerving, because he didn’t know how to swim.
Later, he built bridges across the Rhine River in France. He helped liberate a death camp in Czechoslovokia. And he was a guard at Nuremberg.
His family knows the date but not the place where he suffered the wounds that earned him his Purple Heart: Nov. 6, 1944.
“He really was in the middle of it all,” Maloney said. “We’re grateful for his service.”
Maloney also was able to get replacement copies of several other medals Piranio earned, including a Good Conduct medal and a marksmanship badge.