Police say thief traded stolen Purple Heart medal for Mountain Dew

CALDWELL COUNTY, N.C. — A stolen Purple Heart medal belonging to the family of a Vietnam War veteran has been returned.

Erica Laws said her father Daniel Wayne Laws, who died in 2016, completed two tours of duty in the war, rising to the rank of staff sergeant. She kept his two Purple Hearts, two Bronze Star medals and nearly a dozen other medals and ribbons next to his ashes at the family homestead along Bee Mountain Ridge Road near Lenoir.

No one was living at the home, but surveillance cameras showed someone coming on to the property several weeks ago.

Charles Carr, 31, is accused of stealing the medals, and has not yet been arrested. Police said they have taken out a warrant against Carr for obtaining property by false pretense.

Investigators said Carr traded the war medal for a Code Red Mountain Dew and the person who got the medal alerted authorities after seeing the story on television.

“It was awful. I mean, it hurts more than anything. You just feel violated because they went through everything,” Laws said.

In addition to the medals, a Kawasaki Bayou Four-Wheeler and television were also stolen.

Caldwell County deputies hope to find the four-wheeler, believing it will possibly lead them to the war medals.

Laws said her father survived a plane crash and being shot twice while serving his country and she really wanted to get the medals back.

“It just got me right here because you can’t replace it. I felt so bad because he protected the country and I can’t even protect his memory,” she said.

Anyone who knows where Carr might be should call the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office.

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