NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Four missing World War II military medals have been returned to the family of a soldier who kept them in a safe deposit box in Nashville before he died in 2010.

The late Joseph R. Foster served in the U.S. Army in Germany in WWII as part of the Rhineland Campaign, according to the Tennessee Department of Treasury. He was awarded four military medals: The European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, The Army of Occupation Medal, the World War II Victory Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.

The Tennessee Department of Treasury, Division of Unclaimed Property was able to connect with the medal recipient’s daughter.

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returned medals
(Courtesy: Tennessee Department of Treasury)

The Tennessee Department of Treasury, Division of Unclaimed Property reported Foster stored the medals in a safe-deposit box in a Nashville-area bank. After his death in 2010, the medals were found in the abandoned safe-deposit box but thanks to the Tennessee law protecting all military decorations, the bank turned the medals over to the Tennessee Department of Treasury, Division of Unclaimed Property.

“The returning of military medals is very special because it’s our way as a state and a population to recognize the service and sacrifice of veterans who have served our country and protected our freedom,” said Treasurer David H. Lillard Jr. “You can’t put a price on that.”

The medals were presented to Foster’s children, Melisa Foster Washington and David Foster, during a ceremony at the state Capitol.

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“I was a teenager when my dad passed. So, I didn’t get a lot of time with him,” said Melisa Foster Washington. “I never thought this moment would come where I would have some type of memorabilia from his service. Having these medals returned is having a piece of my dad and a piece of his story. Honestly, this just means the world to me.”

The Division of Unclaimed Property helped connect Mr. Foster’s family to the medals through the State Treasury’s concentrated social media outreach efforts enabled by a law passed by the General Assembly in May 2011, which was designed to protect military medals for veterans, according to a release. The law identifies a military medal as any decoration or award that may be presented or awarded to a member of a unit of the Armed Forces or National Guard. The Treasury’s Division of Unclaimed Property is then responsible for their safekeeping.