A WWII hero’s family plead for stolen war medals to be returned

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NORTHVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – On Labor Day weekend, someone broke into the DeWitt’s family lake house twice and ransacked their home.

They took their jewelry boxes, chainsaws, hand tools, weed wacker, and electronics. What the family can’t replace is a picture framed with their father’s war medals and memories of his time in the Air Force during the Vietnam War and WWII.

“He was a war hero. My dad was my hero and I’m very proud of him,” said Maryanne Vannostrand.

John DeWitt was a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force. His daughter Maryanne said her dad had quite an impressive background.

“He worked with President Eisenhower, and he was one of the first flyers that flew nuclear power to France,” said she.

John passed away from heart complications in 1991. He left behind four children. His son John Jr. said his dad left a lasting mark on his family and this country.

“My sisters and I were left with his memories, a lasting legacy, our parents lake house, and his collection of war medals,” said John Jr.

John Jr. and his sisters recently have been going through their dad’s things and they were fixing up the house. He said he framed his dads medals and hung them up in his room. His family also just lost their mom earlier this year. John said his dad’s medals meant so much to everyone.

This past Labor Day weekend, the DeWitt’s were not at their families’ Edinburgh home.

“We became a little relaxed up here when it came to security I think and someone took advantage of it,” said John Jr.

Someone broke into their home between Saturday, September 6th and Sunday, September 7th. They smashed their cellar windows and made their way through the home. Maryanne says on Sunday, they went to the house and put up a trail camera. The person then came back when they were gone and took their TV.

“One of the first things we noticed when I was checking in the bedrooms was that my dad’s medals were gone. I just felt like someone sucked the wind out of me. It just hurt, and what does someone want with these medals other then us remembering stories and the powerful feelings we have of my dad and how he served this country,” said Maryanne.

“My jaw dropped more or less because I wouldn’t of thought that they would take that. We have other things that are more valuable in price than those medals were,” said John Jr. 

Maryanne said luckily her and her siblings still have a small piece of their father that they can hold on too.

“We have the miniature version of his medals. Those medals were the ones that went on his dress. He would wear them when he had full dress on in uniform. So I’m very thankful we still have these,” said she.

Maryanne, her brother John and their sister Diane said they have no hard feelings. But they are asking to have their father’s legacy returned once and for all.  

“All I can say is that these medals mean more to us than they do anybody else. If they are returned, please place them on our steps. We just want them to come back, its just so memorable for us,” said she.

The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office is currently still investigating this burglary. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of these medals is asked to contact the Fulton County Sheriff Office at (518) 736-2100.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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