Wanaque police search for owner of World War I medal

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Wanaque police have a mystery on their hands – who is the owner of a World War I medal?

Police say that someone brought the medal to Chief Robert Kronyak a few weeks ago. The medal had been uncovered long ago on Conklintown Road. Kronyak says that it was so dirty that he couldn’t read it at first.

"But then after I started cleaning it, I thought ‘Wow, what is this thing?’ It's amazing though. Funny because the strap, it actually looks like the strap that used to hang from the shoulder,” Kronyak says.

The medal is dated 1917-1918. It was a World War I medal given to a veteran named Dan Battaglia by the borough. The medal just says “World War” because at the time, no one knew that there would be a World War II.

"’Patriotic service in The World War.’  Because obviously at the time they thought it was going to be the war to end all wars so that was supposed to be it,” says Capt. Kenneth Fackina.

Officers discovered that Dan Battaglia was born in 1890 in Washington, and lived on Ringwood Avenue in Wanaque in the 1940s. But they say that this is where the trail runs cold.

"Apparently Battaglia is a very common name and every Battaglia that I've been in contact with is not a relative,” Fackina says.

Reaching out to veterans’ affairs groups also turned up very little.

“If it’s the guy they think it was, he was a bachelor, never married, never had children,” Kronyak says.

They have also tried searching funeral homes, cemeteries and social media - but still no leads.

"Worst-case scenario if I really couldn’t find an actual family member, which I will find, it will go to the VFW or something,” says Fackina. “But it feels like it should be in a family member's…hands."

Wanaque celebrated its centennial this year, and police say that returning the medal to Battaglia’s family would be a perfect way to celebrate their history.

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