Search for G.I. Joes Results in Return of Medals to Family of an American Hero; Cherokee Warrior & Medal of Honor Recipient, PFC Charles George

Mauro (age 8) and Michael (age 11) Mazzariello present the medals they discovered in an antique store that belonged to PFC Charles George (deceased) to members of his family during a Veteran’s Day ceremony on the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds in NC. (Photo: Scott McKie B.P./One Feather Photos)

PFC Charles George, recipient of the Medal of Honor.
(Photo: US Army)

We came across this touching story of luck, heroism and “GIjOE Karma” on the ABC News website recently. According to the network’s story dated 11/12/12…

When his sons do well in school, Michael Mazzariello of Wallkill, N.Y., takes them to Newburgh’s Antique & Collectible Shop for a special treat – G.I. Joes. A trip in late April brought an even greater reward when a bin of soldiers’ medals caught the boys’ eyes.

Rifling through them, Michael, 11, and Mauro, 8, came across three honors bearing the same soldier’s name: Charles George. The Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Good Conduct awards they found in the tiny New York shop belonged to the recipient of the United States’ highest military honor, the Medal of Honor.

6th Grader Michael said…

“We went in looking for a G.I. Joe Real American Hero and came out with a REAL American hero!”

Charles George training in Japan before being sent to Korea.
(Photo: US Army)

Terrance Berean, one of the store’s owners, estimated the medals’ worth at $800 because of their good condition and their unique circumstances of their origin. Berean’s son agreed to give the Mazzariellos the medals for free on one condition — that they find their rightful owner.

Using a combination of state senators, veterans and YouTube, the boys were able to determine that these were the medals of an American hero. The Mazzariello boys got to see the awards united with George’s family at a Veteran’s Day ceremony in North Carolina on Monday. 

On Nov. 30, 1952, George, whose Cherokee name “Tsali” means self-sacrifice, threw himself on a grenade that killed him, but saved those fighting in his company during the Korean War. His legacy was honored not only by his local Eastern Band Cherokee community, but also by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower invited George’s parents to Washington D.C. to receive the honors on their son’s behalf and though they held tight to the Medal of Honor, their son’s other awards somehow got lost.

Michael (l) and Mauro (r) and Charles George’s medals, including the Medal of Honor, arranged in their new window box display case. (Photo: ABC News)

Sixty years after George died serving the United States, the medals honoring his service were finally reunited with his family. Michael and Mauro spoke to a crowd gathered to honor veterans, bringing both tears and smiles to attendees’ faces.

Afterwards, young Michael said…

“It was the most satisfying moment of my life, to finally give the medals back to them.”

The Mazzariellos’ father Michael said…

“There were standing ovations, crying, crazy emotional. And it was wonderful for us to meet Charles George’s family,”

After this journey, young Michael decided he too wants to serve his country…

“I want to be a doctor for the military so I can help fix them.”

What a wonderful, heartwarming story. And what a great pair of young MEN. Mission Accomplished, fellas. I guess we’ll call this one the “Search for the Lost Medals.” Thank you, Michael. Thank you, Mauro. And thank you, CHARLES!

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One thought on “Search for G.I. Joes Results in Return of Medals to Family of an American Hero; Cherokee Warrior & Medal of Honor Recipient, PFC Charles George

  1. kneonknight says:

    It is gratifying to see these youngsters doing the right thing. Kudos to both of them, and to their parents for instilling a sense of dignity and respect in them. I wish them all the very best, especially Michael. I’m sure that he will achieve his goal of becoming a doctor, and will be an asset to the Armed Forces, no matter which branch he serves in.

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