Steamboat woman reunited with father’s Purple Heart after 58 years | SteamboatToday.com
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Steamboat woman reunited with father’s Purple Heart after 58 years

Teresa Ristow
Bonnie Adams Deeds, of Steamboat Springs, looks over historical newspaper clippings and other documents found in a box in Hastings, Michigan, along with her father's Purple Heart from World War II.
Teresa Ristow

Veterans Day activities

American Legion Post #44 and VFW Post #4264 have announced Veterans Day activities in Steamboat Springs.

On Friday, Nov. 11, students will be honoring veterans during special Veterans Day programs at 9:30 a.m. at Soda Creek Elementary School and at 2:30 p.m. at Strawberry Park Elementary School. All veterans are invited to attend, and are encouraged to arrive at either school at least 15 minutes before the programs start.

A group of veterans will also be presenting a program for homeschool and Emerald Mountain School students at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 11 at the Steamboat Springs City Council chambers in Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

The annual Veterans Day breakfast will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 11 at the VFW Post, 924 Lincoln Ave. The breakfast is open to all veterans; donations will be accepted. From 11:15 to 11:45 a.m., a Veterans Day reception will be held at the Doak Walker House in the Casey’s Pond senior living center.

— Bonnie Adams Deeds always wondered what happened to the Purple Heart her father, Richard D. Adams, earned while serving in the Army during World War II.

Veterans Day activities

American Legion Post #44 and VFW Post #4264 have announced Veterans Day activities in Steamboat Springs.

On Friday, Nov. 11, students will be honoring veterans during special Veterans Day programs at 9:30 a.m. at Soda Creek Elementary School and at 2:30 p.m. at Strawberry Park Elementary School. All veterans are invited to attend, and are encouraged to arrive at either school at least 15 minutes before the programs start.

A group of veterans will also be presenting a program for homeschool and Emerald Mountain School students at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 11 at the Steamboat Springs City Council chambers in Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

The annual Veterans Day breakfast will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 11 at the VFW Post, 924 Lincoln Ave. The breakfast is open to all veterans; donations will be accepted. From 11:15 to 11:45 a.m., a Veterans Day reception will be held at the Doak Walker House in the Casey’s Pond senior living center.

She was 12 when her father, then out of the Army and serving in the National Guard, died.

“I had always wondered but had nobody to ask about it,” said Adams Deeds, who is the last living member of her immediate family.

Last week, Adams Deeds was reunited with not only the Purple Heart, but a box full of family heirlooms and her own birth certificate, after being sought out by veterans and genealogists in Michigan who were given the items.

As it turned out, a worn cardboard box covered in Adams Deeds’ own crayon marks had been left behind when she and her family moved from Hastings, Michigan, to Tampa Bay, Florida, when she was 8.

“Apparently, it was just up in the corner of the attic and left there,” she said.

The box was actually discovered by a woman living in the Hastings house, which had been converted into apartments, in the mid-1980s. The woman realized the significance of the Purple Heart and a Bronze Star inside and brought the box into her own home.

When she died, the box ended up with her niece, and when the niece died, the box was passed down another generation to the niece’s daughter, a Hastings woman named Sunny Anderson, according to a recent story in the Hastings Reminder newspaper.

Anderson set out to find family members of the soldier who won the medals, and with the help of Veterans Affairs and an American Legion Post historian in Hastings, they tracked down Adams Deeds online, through her niece.

“At first, I thought it was a scam,” said Adams Deeds Thursday, from her home in the Whitewood subdivision in Steamboat Springs.

But she was convinced after the people she was corresponding with emailed copies of childhood photos of Adams Deeds and her brother and sister, as well a photo of her father in his military uniform.

Adams Deeds traveled to Hastings last week for the first time since she was a child, bringing home a folder of newspaper clippings about her father and shipping the box in its entirety back to Colorado.

Adams Deeds said she’s appreciated revisiting all of the memories inside the box, which is filled with photo albums, pamphlets and literature about the military and her father, and her own birth certificate, something she managed to do without for most of her adult life.

Though she was young when her father died, Adams Deeds recalls his dedication to serving his country.

“He was a happy man,” she said. “I truly believe the military was his life, it was his passion,” she said.

According to the records recovered in the box, Richard Adams served in the Army for 4 1/2 years, working his way up as a “mustang.”

“That is an officer that goes up through the ranks from an enlisted man,” said Al Deeds, Adams Deeds’ husband.

Adams was 26 when he was hospitalized after he was “hit by shrapnel when caught in a barrage of enemy artillery fire aimed at tanks used in combined infantry-armor assault near Duren, Germany,” according to an old newspaper clipping found in the box.

The injury led to his receiving the Purple Heart.

Adams also received a Bronze Star for his efforts in Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany while serving with the 83 Infantry Division, according to another clipping.

Adams Deeds said she was grateful to be reunited with the family keepsakes and plans to frame some of the items and find a way to better preserve the rest.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow


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