BRUNSWICK, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Finally they arrived! Scott Burkett and his friend Doug Ingram drove thousands of miles from suburban Atlanta on motorcycles carrying precious cargo: the Purple Heart, which was posthumously awarded to Wayne Nethercott’s great uncle, Joe.
“First thought in my head was that my Great Uncle Joe is up there somewhere watching something that he posthumously won that he never got to see or wear, and it’s in Scott’s pocket, and that’s his posthumous Purple Heart, and it gave me chills” said Wayne.
Westchester County native Joe Nethercott was killed in action in April 1945 while fighting in Germany with the 26th Infantry Division.
Somehow, Uncle Joe’s medal left the hands of his wife and ended up at an auction in Georgia. Being a veteran himself, it troubled Burkett to see the sale of a fallen soldier’s highest honor.
“It was a gut punch,” Burkett told us. “You know, as a veteran, when you find the Purple Heart, in general, somebody at the minimum got hurt for that — on the extreme, could’ve died for that — and I flipped it over, and there was a name engraved on the back” he added.
Armed with a name and tasked with research, Burkett completed his mission, getting the award back to the Nethercott family. He found Wayne, and a friendship began.
“It’s crazy because I don’t know this guy. I’ve known him for three months. We talk every single day. He’s given me more information about my Great Uncle than my father may have known about.”
Scott’s friend Doug Ingrahm made the long journey with him. As you can imagine, the prospect of a 1,000-mile motorcycle ride — in the dead of summer — with a man who has back issues, raised some eyebrows.
“I probably did ask a question just as a sanity check and then he told me the reason why and I said OK makes sense let’s go,” Ingrahm told us.
Wayne is excited for his 91-year-old father, who was 14 when Uncle Joe died, to get to hold Joe’s Purple Heart in his hands.
“He’s probably going to be speechless, my mother has cried a bunch of times already thinking how wonderful the situation is. I can’t wait for my sons to hold it also,” Wayne said.
Wayne holds Scott in high regard, something Wayne says the latter is bashful about.
“It’s almost like a miracle. I call Scott a hero. He doesn’t wanna hear that he’s my hero, and he’s the Nethercotts hero,” Wayne told NEWS10.
Wayne will see the medal for the first time when Scott presents it to him at a ceremony on Saturday.