Local museum looking to return medals found beside highway to veteran

WICKLIFFE, KY — A piece of fabric carries a lifetime of service for a veteran. It was found on the side of a highway in McCracken County, Kentucky.

We don’t know anything about the veteran who earned them, but we want to change that.

“This looks like somebody’s life,” Vietnam veteran Jonathan Salonimer said. He knows what the medals mean. He earned many of them while serving as a Navy corpsman.

“They did quite a bit of stuff in probably 20 years,” Salonimer said. “This is a navy achievement — surface warfare qualified, and he has the four main medals of good conduct, Navy achievement, expeditionary and national defense, usually in time of war. Ship surface meant you had to know how the ship worked, no matter what you were in. You had to know everything about the engineering,”

Sandy Hart, the owner of the Kentucky Veteran and Patriot Museum, said it’s impossible to tell the whole story.

“There’s a possibility he showed it off from time to time,” Hart said.

She knows how much honor and pride went into the piece.

“This may have been their greatest worth in life, is that they served their country,” Hart said.

Salonimer said it’s a timeline of this person’s life. You can tell by the Navy ranks. It starts off with E-2 classified as a seaman, all the way up to E-7, as a chief petty officer.

The priceless medals were found on the side of the road, stuck on a pizza box.

“Usually, you don’t throw things like that away,” Salonimer said. “You just hold on to them just to hold on to them.”

The journey to find the veteran is just beginning.

“I want to find him. I absolutely wanna find him,” Hart said, to give him back what he earned.

If you have any idea who these medals may belong to, call the Kentucky Veteran & Patriot Museum at 270-335-3128.