Politics & Government

Do you know who these World War II medals belong to? The state needs your help.

The five medals were once kept in a safety deposit box at a Kentucky bank. They all tell a story. But who they belong to is a mystery.

One is a World War II Victory Medal given to any member of the military or reserves who served from Dec. 7, 1941 to Dec. 31, 1946.

Another medal is a European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal for U.S. Armed Forces personnel who served in Europe during World War II.

A third is the Army Good Conduct Medal, given to any member of the U.S. Army who served for three consecutive years for “honorable and faithful service.” Other medals in the box include a World War II Occupation Service Medal and The American Campaign Medal.

The medals came to the Kentucky State Treasurer’s office in 2010 after the safety deposit box registered to Jeremy and Karla Segur of Smiths Grove became inactive. The safe deposit box was at the South Central Bank in Bowling Green, according to the treasurer’s records.

The medals from the Segur’s safe deposit box are just five of dozens of military medals in the state treasurer’s vault in Frankfort. The office’s unclaimed property division has done its best to find someone related to the Segur family who may know who the medals belong to.

But so far, nothing.

“These medals are invaluable,” said State Treasurer Allison Ball. “We really want the public to pay attention to this because there is an excellent chance that somebody has a grandpa or an uncle, Dad or somebody that these medals belongs to.”

Unclaimed military medals including The Army Good Conduct Medal, from left, The American Campaign Medal, The European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, The World War II Victory Medal and The World War II Occupation Service Medal at the Kentucky State Treasurer’s office in Frankfort, Ky., Monday, May 20, 2019. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

Ball has teamed with the state’s military agencies, including the Commission on Military Affairs, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Military Affairs, to bring attention to unclaimed military medals and return them to the recipients or the owners’ families.

This Memorial Day, the group is starting with the five medals in the Segur safe deposit box because they are all World War II medals, Ball said.

Returning World War II medals is a top priority because so many of those veterans are dying, said Ball, whose 92-year-old grandfather is a World War II veteran. The 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion is also fast approaching on June 6.

In addition to keeping the state’s checkbook, the state treasurer’s office is also the statewide lost and found. If a check goes unclaimed or if a safe deposit box is abandoned, after a certain period of time it goes to Ball’s office. Safe deposit boxes are sometimes abandoned because a family member dies and other family members are not aware their parent, grandparent or family member had the box, Ball said.

Kentucky State Treasurer Allison Ball is currently working to return hundreds of unclaimed military medals that have been turned over to the state at the Kentucky State Treasurer’s office in Frankfort, Ky., Monday, May 20, 2019. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

“We usually just try to go out and find these family members but what we have found is that we need someone with expertise and knowledge” of what the medals were awarded for, she said. That’s why pairing with other state agencies that deal with veterans or military affairs has been helpful.

For example, the Commission on Military Affairs helped the state treasurer identify what each medal in the Segur safe deposit box was awarded for.

Lisa Aug, a spokeswoman for the Department of Veterans Affairs, said the department will be posting pictures of the Segur medals on its social media channels to help reach more veterans and their families.

“Whenever military medals are lost, stolen or unclaimed it is of course a tragedy,” Aug said. In addition to connecting unclaimed or found medals with veterans or their families, the department also helps veterans order replacement medals if and when military medals are lost.

“ For veterans who are still living and want to replace lost or stolen medals, KDVA can help,” Aug said. “This web page https://veterans.ky.gov/otherprograms/medals/Pages/default.aspx has a link for applying for replacement medals.”

Unclaimed military medals at the Kentucky State Treasurer’s office in Frankfort, Ky., Monday, May 20, 2019. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

Aug said during World War II there was a nationwide shortage of metal. That meant many World War II soldiers received their medals after the war or not at all.

“For WWII veterans, shortage of metal during the war meant that many soldiers never received their medals,” Aug said. “ It has been a huge effort for the last couple of decades to get those medals to the World War II veterans before they pass. For all veterans, medals are not something given or won, but something painfully earned.”

Currently, the office has dozens of military medals from all wars, Ball said.

“The number constantly fluctuates,” she said.

Closer to Veterans Day, the office will start a second push to find the owners or family members of those medal recipients. In a glass case in the vault of the treasurer’s office are some of the medals the office has collected. One is a Bronze Star, which is awarded to U.S. Armed Forces members for heroic service or meritorious service in a combat zone. Another is a Purple Heart.

Anyone with information about the five military medals in the Segur safe deposit box should contact Ball’s office at 800-465-4722 or 502-564-4722 or email unclaimed.property@ky.gov. To check to see if there is unclaimed property that might belong to you, go to https://treasury.ky.gov/unclaimedproperty/Pages/Unclaimed-Property-Search.aspx