Purple Heart returned to its owner in Rocky Hill - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Purple Heart returned to its owner in Rocky Hill

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This Purple Heart was finally returned to its rightful owner on Friday. (WFSB) This Purple Heart was finally returned to its rightful owner on Friday. (WFSB)
ROCKY HILL, CT (WFSB) -

A Purple Heart medal was discovered during a Clearing House Auction and was finally returned to its rightful owner on Friday. 

The Kastner family enjoys going to Clearing House Auctions because they never know what they're going to get.

"You could pay five dollars or ten dollars, and you don't know what you're going to get," said Norm Kastner.

When the family bough a random box 15 years ago and opened it up, they found the Purple Heart, a newspaper clipping of the veteran receiving the medal and the tattered letters he sent home. 

"The telegram to his mother. This one here, telling her that her son had been serious wounded on July 2, 1943," Kastner said. 

These were the documents behind the war stories of Staff Sergeant Sebastian Salustro, a "gunner" in the Army-Air Force. 

"We couldn't just get rid of it. It's got to belong to someone, it's just too valuable," Kastner said. 

Ever since the Kastners found the box, they've been looking to get the relics back to the Salustro family. With only a name and a photograph to go off of, it wasn't easy, so the Kastners called Eyewitness News. 

We helped the family look up Salustro's burial records and reached out to the Bloomfield Cemetery where he was laid to rest. The cemetery helped us get in contact with his great nephew, Tom DiMarco. 

"We were sort of his adopted kids. We grew up next door and they were like second parents to us, our favorite aunt and uncle, we loved them," DiMarco said. 

DiMarco was very closed with his Great-Uncle "Sebe". After Salustro died in 1994, the stories behind the medals never faded and were often brought up during family gatherings. 

"The plane was shot down and he was ejected, and everyone died on the plane, but he literally fell into a field through a cow. The cow broke his fall, which obviously saved his life," DiMarco explained. 

A harrowing tale of survival and one that earned him his Purple Heart. His family knew the medal existed, they always thought it was with a different relative and never knew it was in the hands of complete strangers who had the hear to dig to make sure this heart got back to where it belonged. 

"It's giving me chills, it's bringing me right back to Sebe. He was quite the guy and this exemplifies what he was all about," DiMarco said. 

"I feel wonderful. I was in the service and I know what medals mean to people. It's very important," Kastner said. 

After packing up the mementos, DiMarco said he'll never let it out of his sights. In fact, they plan on making a mini memorial that they'll frame and have in their home. 

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