On November 30, 1952, Pfc. Charles George, Eastern Band of Cherokee, acted with bravery and gallantry. He threw himself on an enemy grenade in a bunker in Korea, making the ultimate sacrifice to save the lives of his U.S. Army Company comrades. For his heroism, George was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military award.
His family accepted the Medal in a presentation by then President Harry S. Truman in 1954, which they have cherished ever since. But George had been decorated with other medals, including a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, and one for Good Conduct. Somehow, those awards went missing over the years.
But recently, in an incredible way, those medals have been returned to George’s family, in Cherokee, North Carolina, just before the 60th anniversary of his act of heroism. And two young boys in New York are to thank.
Michael Mazzariello, 11, and his brother, Mauro, 8, found the medals in an antique store in Newberg, New York, while searching for a G.I. Joe doll. Intrigued, they persuaded the shop owner to let them take the medals, one of which was inscribed with George’s name, if they would find their rightful owner.
“We were looking for an action hero figure and came out with a true American hero’s war medals belonging to Charles George,” Michael told Cherokee One Feather.
The boy’s quest eventually led them to American Legion Post 143 in Cherokee, which was able to connect the Mazzariellos with relatives of Pfc. George.
In a Veterans Day ceremony in Cherokee on November 12, the medals were officially returned to George’s family.
Patty Buchanan, a relative of Pfc. George, said, “On behalf of the George family, we would like to thank [the Mazzariello brothers] very much. We really do appreciate it.”
How the medals ended up in an antique store in New York is a mystery. But what is known is that a hero has been honored again, rightfully. And two very impressive young men in New York have done well.