Descendent of Purple Heart recipient found

Auction house wanted to find family of Charles D. Cook

SAN ANTONIOUpdate: The Purple Heart mystery has been solved, thanks to Ancestry.com. The son of Charles D. Cook looked on the genealogy website after the story aired on KSAT Thursday.

The son was born two days after his father was killed in action in 1944 in Germany. He is now a 74-year-old attorney in Austin.

Plans are now in the works to return the Purple Heart to Cook’s son, who is elated to know it has been found.

Original story: One of Derek Shull’s first finds when he started ATX Auctions in Austin a decade ago was a Purple Heart still in its case inside a box.

He said the box was in one of the abandoned or foreclosed storage units in Austin that he would acquire for items to auction.

Now with auction houses in several Texas cities, including San Antonio, Shull said he knew immediately it was much too personally valuable for someone to sell. But after two years of looking, he never found the family of the recipient, Charles D. Cook.

“Honestly, I feel bad for keeping it this long,” Shull said.

But after running across the medal again inside a box at his home two months ago, Shull said he showed it to one of his employees who is a Vietnam War veteran.

“’Look what I have. I’ve got a Purple Heart. We have to find who it belongs to,’” Skip Adams said his boss told him.

Adams said he discovered through the internet that the U.S. Army sergeant recipient had been killed in action during World War II, but it’s unclear where. He also said Cook wasn’t drafted, he enlisted.

“He joined in Travis County, Texas,” Adams said.

Now aware of the mystery, Tony Roman — twice a Purple Heart recipient in Vietnam and now a commander of the Alamo chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart — is trying to do his part to find Cook’s family.

“We’ll do everything we can to find that family,” Roman said.

“Anyone that may know this man or his family,” Adams said, should call him at 210-386-7547.

Shull said with the public’s help, and that of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, “We want to give it back to his family. They deserve to have it back.”

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