‘This is the least we can do’: Man looking for family of Purple Heart recipient in WWII

A Massachusetts man looks to return a lost Purple Heart medal to its rightful owner. (SOURCE: WCVB)
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 7:44 PM EDT
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ATTLEBORO, Mass. (WCVB) – The Purple Heart is one of the most recognized and respected honors given to service members, and a Massachusetts man wants to make sure a lost medal is returned to its rightful owner.

Ben Quelle, director of veteran services in Attleboro, thought finding the medal’s owner would be easy.

“On the back of this metal is the actual name of the veteran, Hugh Farren,” he said.

A death notice offered clues, but the trail went cold despite the Dorchester address and the man’s sister, Helen Doherty. Soon, the symbol of America’s highest honor became a mystery.

“This is actually probably one of the more difficult mysteries to solve because I’m just running into dead ends every time I try,” Quelle said.

Quelle said little is known about Farren beyond his military record.

Born in 1904, Farren, an immigrant from Ireland, enlisted in the Navy during World War II at age 39. He served aboard the U.S.S. Liscome Bay, which sank in the Pacific on Thanksgiving Day in 1944.

Farren was then presumed dead, killed in action, with his body lost at sea. His surviving sister was given the death notice and handed the Purple Heart. What happened to it decades later remains unclear.

In 1962, the City of Boston named a bridge in Dorchester “The Hugh Farren Pedestrian Overpass.”

He was revered enough to be honored by the city, but his lineage was lost in history.

Quelle said it’s time to honor the sailor by finding his family and the Purple Heart’s rightful heir.

“This sounds like somebody who had friends and was known in his community and then at a late age stepped up and put his life on the line and ultimately paid the ultimate price,” he said. “This is the least we can do.”

Quelle is still searching for anyone connected to the Farren family who can lead him to the heir to the lost Purple Heart.