World War II-era U.S. Army campaign ribbons last held in a safe deposit box by a Callaway County resident are among the military medals the Missouri State Treasurer's office and local museums are trying to get returned to their rightful owners this month.
With Veterans Day next week, Missouri State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick encouraged Missourians in a news release Wednesday to search his office's unclaimed property database for military medals and insignia.
The contents of safe deposit boxes are turned over to the state treasurer after an entity such as a bank has not had any contact or documented transaction with the owner in five years.
"My office will never sell or destroy these medals — but we do want to return them," Fitzpatrick said Wednesday. "Our effort to raise awareness this month about these medals reflects our commitment to returning them to the heroes who earned them. As always, we thank America's military veterans for their service to this great country."
Other kinds of property in unclaimed safe deposit boxes, such as coins, jewelry, stamps and sports cards, are auctioned, and the money from the sales can be claimed by rightful owners or their heirs.
The state treasurer's database of military medals and insignia found in unclaimed safe deposit boxes includes one U.S. Army Good Conduct ribbon and two Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbons — one with a bronze service star — that came from a safe deposit box owned by Charles Beck, of Holts Summit, whose address is listed as at the J&L Mobile Home Park in Holts Summit.
The state treasurer's office told the News Tribune the safe deposit box originated from the Central Bank of Lebanon. Central Bank in Lebanon and Conway became First State Community Bank in May 2016.
Charles Beck and other individuals listed in the database may not be the recipient of the medals or insignia — but they're at least the last people who were in possession of the property in their safe deposit box that went unclaimed.
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign medals and ribbons were awarded to Army personnel for service within the Asiatic-Pacific Theater between Dec. 7, 1941, and March 2, 1946, according to U.S. Army information on campaign medals.
A bronze star worn on an Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon indicates participation in designated campaigns, including battles in Burma, the Aleutian Islands, Guadalcanal and other Solomon Islands, New Guinea, the Marshall Islands (then also known as the Eastern Mandates), the Philippines and the Ryukyu Islands, which include Okinawa.
U.S. air forces operated within the Army during World War II — the modern U.S. Air Force did not yet exist at the time — so air combat and other operations in the areas listed above, also including the air raids against Japan, are also included in bronze star designation for the ribbon.
The ribbons are available commercially, but the ones pictured in the state treasurer's database seem to show some obvious signs of wear — slight tears or fraying.
Anyone who recognizes the ribbons, other military medals or the name of a person listed with an item can call the state treasurer's office at 573-751-0123 or send an electronic message at treasurer.mo.gov/EmailUs/EmailUs.aspx.
A full list of medals, names and last known addresses of the safe deposit box owners is available at ShowMeMoney.com/medals.
At least through this month, the Missouri State Museum and Museum of Missouri Military History in Jefferson City will display banners that encourage visitors to search the unclaimed property database.
"Books with pictures of the medals and details about owners will also be located in these venues," according to the state treasurer's news release.
Other participating locations include the National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City and all seven of the state's veterans homes.