Paul Reyburn has so far been unable to replace his father's Purple Heart medal, which was stolen from his nightstand late last year. That would have meant the world to him and his family this Memorial Day weekend.
But on Sunday, Warren Reyburn was honored all the same when Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar hand-delivered to his survivors a fistful of other medals -- including a Bronze Star that was earned but never received.
Warren Reyburn "was not one to make a fuss over stuff," his son said. "But "I think he would have been humbled" today.
Paul Reyburn's home was burglarized in November 2014 while he and his family were out of town. Amid the resulting mayhem, he didn't notice at first that the medal and its box along with other decorations were missing from their place of honor beside his bed.
When he did realize this, "I broke down right there (at) 2:33 in the morning," he said.
He vowed to get the medal back but didn't have a clue how to do that. Media coverage prompted a call from Klobuchar's office with offers of assistance, but even that didn't produce a replacement Purple Heart.
The U.S. government requires proof that Warren Reyburn received that original Purple Heart, his son said, and the relevant paperwork apparently was destroyed during a fire in the 1970s. He and Klobuchar have vowed to keep scrounging for helpful documents.
Meanwhile, something unexpected happened. Paul Reyburn got an email from a World War II history buff who had seen a photograph of the Purple Heart -- and, beside it, a combat decoration.
Did you know, the history buff said, that the U.S. government decided in 1947 to award every such combat-decoration recipient a Bronze Star? A thunderstruck Paul Reyburn said he did not. Warren Reyburn hadn't, either. He died in 2000.
This kicked Klobuchar's staff into another flurry of activity leading up to Sunday, when the senator staged a ceremony in Paul Reyburn's East Side home.
As relatives and press operatives looked on, Klobuchar presented him with the Bronze Star -- a decoration typically awarded for "heroic achievement" or "meritorious service in a combat zone" -- along with several other medals.
These included a Good Conduct Medal, an Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze combat-campaign stars, a World War II Victory Medal, a Combat Infantryman Badge, a Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one bronze star, and an Honorable Service Lapel Button for World War II service.
"I am very grateful to the senator and her staff for all the work they have been doing," Reyburn said.