ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Recently a thief stole items from a car in the Metro East including a bag of pipe tobacco, a wallet and a military challenge coin. The victim’s first name is Henry, he asked us not to use his last name.
The challenge coin has great sentimental value for him.
“You just think it's gone and you'll never see it again,” said Henry.
The coin was given to Henry when he completed his training in 1981 to be a member of the elite U.S. Army Green Beret. He would go on to serve 23-years in the US Army’s elite special forces unit and complete dangerous deployments around the Middle East and all over the world.
Today challenge coins are common in the military and law enforcement, but Henry said the only members of the military who were given challenge coins back then were members of special forces.
On Saturday, Michael Freeman was walking near Washington and Euclid when he spotted something on the ground.
"Something told me to look down and it was right there at the corner, right there at the drainage sewer," said Freeman.
Freeman said he picked up a coin that said “special forces” on one side and had a last name and first initial of ‘H’ on the other side. He said he knew it was of great value and had to help get it back to its owner. Freeman is homeless but said he never hesitated to do the right thing.
"I have family members who served,” said Freeman.
He flagged down a passing police officer. Lt. Dan Zarrick of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department was working a secondary job in the Central West End and immediately got online and started doing some digging.
"Had done a police report in St. Louis city back in the 2000s and the police officer had thought to get his work address and employer information," said Zarrick.
Zarrick eventually spoke with Henry and set up a meeting on Monday for Freeman to return the challenge coin to the former Green Beret who’d earned the right to carry it.
"I just want to thank you and let you know how important it was for me to get that coin back," said Henry.
After their meeting, Henry took Freeman to lunch so they could talk more. And police made contact with a social service agency to help Freeman get off the streets.