09/20/2013 03:10 pm ET

Stolen WWII Medals Returned To Late Veteran Roger Neis' Family In Minnesota (VIDEO)

Last year, Roger Neis' WWII medals were stolen from his widow's home in Minneapolis, Minn. The burglar, Christopher Lee Burgess, was soon caught and sentenced to a year in the county workhouse. Still, Neis' daughter, Nikki, thought the family would never see the medals again.

Her father, a private in the U.S. Army, had earned a Bronze Star and two oak leaf clusters after surviving the Bataan Death March in 1942, the Star Tribune reported. He was among the near 60,000 American POWs that the Imperial Japanese Army forced to march 80 miles without food or water. He passed away in 2007 at the age of 87.

“My dad meant everything to me,” Nikki told WCCO, “and to see [the medals] gone… I can’t even tell you.”

But this week, what Nikki described as "a miracle" happened.

Burgess' defense attorney turned over the medals. His client had been released from the workhouse a few weeks earlier.

"The lawyer brought this case and these medals," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said at a press conference on Wednesday. "So, it's my absolute privilege and delight to give Nikki her father's medals."

"I'm so proud of my dad and everything he accomplished in life," Nikki told FOX 9 News. "To have this to hand down to my son and also to teach my son and my children what people have had to go through to serve this country so they have the rights ... of American Citizens."



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