Lost Purple Heart returned to family of WWII recipient – by way of a garage sale

by Harold Wessell

BALLSTON SPA, August 14: The  Purple Heart Medal was issued posthumously for Floyd M. Mabb, who served as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army from 1943 until he was killed in action on January  3,  1945, at age 19.

Had Tammie Mohan not gone to a garage sale two years ago  and bought a purse the medal may never have been found.  About three weeks ago she closely checked a purse she had gotten then, and found in a pocket the medal with his name on the back. Purple Heart medal awarded for his  service that led to injury and death was given to his mother and then disappeared.

She then reached out to the Saratoga County Clerk's Craig Hayner, in hopes of finding Mr. Mabb's family, who as it happens are numerous in the Town of Milton. His name is on the back of the medal but written in cursive. So the Clerk’s office got out magnifying glasses to discover his name.

County Clerk Hayner and his staff were able to locate records in County files regarding  Private First Class Mabb's service. He was also successful in coordinating with other agencies to locate Mr. Mabb's records, notably through the Saratoga County Veterans Service Agency, whose staff ironically had been working with nephew and veteran  Lloyd Helman,  to try to gain further records on Floyd through the National Personnel Records Center.

That center, unfortunately explained  agency Director Frank McClement, suffered a massive fire in 1973, that destroyed approximately 80 percent of the records of Army and Air Force veterans who served from World War I, all the way up to 1960s.

The Clerk's office was soon  able to reach out to the family and inform them: Their search had come to an end.

One discovery led swiftly to another, during only about two weeks. Last week the  family of the World War II hero was reunited with his Purple Heart during  an intimate and  moving ceremony on August 14 at  Ballston Spa American Legion Post No. 234.

And so on Tuesday, August 13, Floyd Mabb's nephews Lloyd and William “Bub” Helman were presented with the Purple Heart by Hayner, accompanied by great-niece Wendy Brust, and other close relatives.

Floyd was born in Round Lake on April 12, 1925 to Frederick and Elizabeth Mabb, and had 6 brothers and sisters.  He entered into service in September, 1943, and  served with

the 507th  Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, as a Private First Class.

He was killed in action in Longchamps, Belgium, on January 3, 1945 and lies in the American Cemetery in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.

During the ceremony, reflected Mr. Hayner "Private First Class Floyd Mabb gave his life for our country during his WWII service. I'm honored that we could reunite his family with his Purple Heart Medal and provide additional information about his military service. Today is the culmination of a heartwarming story of community, and exemplifies the importance of honoring the service and sacrifice of the brave men and women who've served our Country. "

In remarks by other officials  at the special ceremony:

"Floyd Mabb selflessly gave his life for our Country and I'm happy our community came together to give this symbol of his sacrifice back to his family,"  said Town of Milton Supervisor Scott Ostrander, who presented the County's proclamation on behalf of Chairman Kevin Tollisen of Halfmoon, who could not attend. A proclamation from the Milton Town Board  was read by Councilman John Frolish,

Supervisor Ostrander acknowledged the participation of Councilwoman Barbara Kerr as well; and announced that  the November ceremony in the County's series memorializing a different deceased vet each month since 1999 will be conducted in honor of Floyd Mabb.

"Floyd Mabb of Ballston Spa represented that Greatest Generation," proclaimed state Senator James Tedisco. "I'm proud to honor Private Mabb posthumously for his service to our country and to present his family with the New York State Senate Liberty Medal, the Senate's highest honor for courage and heroic service to our state and a grateful nation."

The Senator announced the issuance in honor of Floyd Madd of the highest award that members of the New York State Senate can provide for someone: The Liberty Medal. "It's for those individuals who sacrifice at unbelievable levels, for their community, for their state, for their nation, in this case also for their world... On behalf of myself and the New York State Senate, I would like to present this posthumously to the Mabb family in  commemoration of his service and the Purple Heart he was given... Although we could never thank you enough for Pfc. Floyd Mabb, this is the highest I can put forth, the highest award given by the New York State Senate. He will be long remembered, and we appreciate his sacrifice."

After presenting the commemorative plaque from the Board of Supervisors, Mr. Ostrander added: “Lloyd and Bub, I've known you two  all my  life. I'm totally honored to be part of this ceremony."

Two special guests were Purple Heart recipients David Wallingford, and Edward Jordan.

The gathering ended as Hayner presented the Purple Heart to the family.