"It could have been stolen. It could have been lost. I have no idea," said Jeff Savidge.
Robert Savidge, 95, now lives in a senior living community in Algonquin. He uses a wheelchair these days, and time has taken a toll on his body. But World War II really started it when Savidge was just 19 and fighting the Germans in Italy.
"He took shrapnel in the right leg," said Jeff Savidge. "It severed a nerve in his leg and he was paralyzed down the right side."
The war wounds earned the PFC Savidge a Purple Heart and other awards. But there was a problem, a big problem.
"I wrote all the members of my family. I said, 'Does anybody have Dad's Purple Heart?' And nobody said they had it," Jeff Savidge recalled.
Since Savidge is a wounded veteran, Jeff wanted to make sure his dad received all the VA benefits he deserved. But he didn't have proof that his dad was wounded.
So the missing medals launched Jeff Savidge on a journey that has lasted more than two years. On Thursday, it culminated with the help of Congressman Sean Casten (D).
The congressman, during these times of COVID-19, was able to reach the right government agency and apply the right pressure during the pandemic.
"A 95-year-old man who lost his medals in the wake of COVID, that should count as an emergency. We should give this veteran his medals back and they were gracious enough to do it," said Rep. Casten. "And its a privilege to be able to pass these over."
The congressman, along with Savidge's family and fellow veterans, honored the Army veteran during a celebration at the senior living facility. Savidge flashed a smile for the cameras as he held the medals in his lap.
With his medals safely replaced, Private Savidge may also have an answer about the missing medals, or at least a sense of humor.
"I tossed it," said Robert Savidge.
"You tossed it? You didn't toss it. Really?" his son said.
"I think I did," the veteran replied.
So where are the medals going now? Jeff Savidge joked he would like to keep his dad's medals in a "vault" for safe keeping.