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Topeka woman returns war medals, memorabilia to WWII veteran

Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 7:48 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A Topeka woman made a stunning discovery as she was cleaning out her garage over Labor Day weekend. Tucked away were pieces of history, that led her to a local World War II veteran.

Past the dust and cobwebs in a loft above her garage, Mikell Burr found an old box.

“I had a broom and I pushed something aside and it was a little box and I picked it up and brushed it off and it said Bronze Star and I was like no way," she said.

Burr dug a little deeper and found a second Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, a service medal, veteran dog tags and newspaper clippings from World War II.

She said, “I had a lot of emotion because both of my grandfathers were in the war.”

It was at that moment Burr knew she had to find who the items belonged to. Using the name on the dog tags she said, “I did a quick Google search and found out he was still alive and I was beside myself."

Burr cleaned up the medals and paid 97-year-old veteran Crosby ‘Bing’ Powell a visit.

Bing said the gesture had him at a loss for words. “I was completely taken back, completely surprised,” he added.

Bing grew up in Topeka and graduated from Topeka High School. He joined the army and served in Africa and Italy during World War II in the 168th Regiment of the 34th Infantry Division.

“I got two bronze stars and two purple hearts," he said.

Burr said she was in awe of his story.

”To receive a bronze star means you had an act of heroism," she continued saying, “To receive a purple heart, means that you were injured in battle and that’s something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.”

Bing recounts the moment during his tour in Italy that led to his first Bronze Star.

“I pulled a man back, he had been hit and I got him underneath a rock where they couldn’t hit him," he continued, "Then we had to stay low and I got hit with ammunition on my back, my leg and my knee and I had trench feet, my feet were purple.”

Bing said that injury kept him holed up in a hospital tent overseas for three months and he had to learn how to walk all over again.

Burr said the sacrifices Bing has made in his lifetime are incredible. She said meeting him and returning what he had lost was a true honor.

“I appreciate it, I certainly do," Bing said, “When she gave these to me I was completely flabbergasted.”

”I couldn’t wait to show him and he was very surprised," Burr added, “I’m glad he has them, I’m glad he has them back.”

Several years after returning home from war, Bing bought a home on Windsor Court in Topeka. That’s the same home Burr and her family live in now and where she found his medals and war memorabilia.

Bing said his wife must have put the box up there before she passed away nearly 30 years ago.

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