“It doesn’t cost more to dream big.”

When Connecting Point premiered its fourth season this fall, we had big dreams of bringing more and deeper content to our viewers– not just on air, but also online.

We wanted to reach out in ways unseen before on social media, too, and really connect there with our viewers and followers.

So it was great to hear a touching story about how our web premiere of Purple Hearts Reunited, a non-profit organization that returns lost or stolen Purple Hearts, was able to return lost dog tags that a Springfield native had been trying to return for the past 10 years.

Purple Hearts Reunited founder Captain Zachariah Fike drove over 3 hours away from Vermont where his organization is based to talk to me about how his hobby-turned-mission was changing the lives of veterans and their families by returning these precious medals. Over the past couple of years, he’s been able to return over 60 medals and there are still hundreds waiting for their rightful owners. His research team works tirelessly trying to track down the owners through government or military databases.

They also return any military item with an identifiable mark on them. That’s where John Garvey, a Wilbraham resident and president of Garvey Communication Associates Inc in Springfield, comes into the picture.

John was on the Connecting Point website and saw the web premiere of Captain Fike talking to me about Purple Hearts Reunited. Immediately, he thought of the dog tags his young son had found over 10 years ago at their house in Wilbraham. Mr. Garvey had been trying to find the rightful owner over the past 10 years whenever an opportunity presented itself. He contacted veteran organizations, military friends and some government departments– even trying ancestry.com. Dog tags have changed over time though: the service numbers of military personnel are now a social security number. Mr Garvey was limited by his lack of access to databases that someone like Captain Fike could use for Purple Hearts Reunited.

So an email was written between the two men, a phone call was made and within hours, the veteran was identified. Purple Hearts Reunited had helped facilitate its first “dog tags return.”

Robert Bennett was the veteran…and he was part of the invasion of Normandy on D-Day.

What history and what significance that was finally unlocked all of these years later!

Captain Fike spoke to the veteran’s daughter in New York, who was very happy to hear the news and said her brother Lon in Florida would want this keepsake of their father.

“If my dad were alive, he would have driven up there to pick them up,” Lon Bennett told John on the phone.

Well, no need for driving! The dog tags were shipped down to Florida and arrived Friday morning.

The Bennetts relayed they were happy and appreciative for John Garvey & Purple Heart Reunited’s thoughtful act.

This all started because John saw Purple Hearts Reunited on WGBY’s web premiere and wanted to chase his dream about returning the lost dog tags.

Purple Hearts Reunited was our web premiere because Captain Fike decided to drive the 3 hours into our studios as he dared to dream big enough that his organization is important to share with as many people as possible.

And Captain Fike was invited because we wanted to dream big and look for those stories that are sure to impact our viewers in western New England.

It’s amazing what can happen when you dare to dream big and it doesn’t even cost you anything extra!


Captain Zachariah Fike spends a considerable amount of his own time to track down lost or stolen medals and return them to the veteran who earned them or to their families. He founded the non-profit organization, Purple Hearts Reunited, and travels all over the country doing return ceremonies when his research team has been able to locate the families.

Purple Hearts Reunited

Purple Hearts Reunited on Facebook

Donations can also be mailed to the following:
Purple Hearts Reunited INC
P.O. Box 2121
Georgia, VT 05468