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Congressman delivers replacements for items stolen from mom of dead soldier

8:41 PM, Mar 19, 2012   |    comments
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VILLA RICA, Ga. (WXIA) -- A Villa Rica mom has found ways to soothe her heartbreak after thieves took precious memories of the son she lost in Iraq.

Cindy Hardegree, a teacher at Villa Rica High School, got a visit from U.S. Congressman Phil Gingrey who brought replacements for the military items stolen from Hardegree's home.

"It makes me understand the tremendous sacrifice these families make," said Gingrey. "It's not just the trooper, but their family."

Mike Hardegree lost his life in September of 2007 while serving in Iraq.

In January, thieves took a jewelry box belonging to his mother. Among the items inside were the airborne wings Cindy Hardegree's son gave her after his graduation from airborne school. She also lost the Gold Star the military gave her after Mike Hardegree's death and miniature replicas of medals he was awarded while fighting overseas.

After hearing about the theft, 11Alive News reached out to Rep. Gingrey's office. The result was the Congressman's visit and a ceremony to present Hardegree with replacements.

Rep. Gingrey pinned Hardegree's new Gold Star on her lapel. It's an honor given to any mother who loses a child to war.

"I wear that for him," said Hardegree. "It gives me an opportunity when people say, 'that's an interesting pin, what is it?' I get a chance to talk about my son."

Hardegree says among the other kind gestures after the theft was an envelope sent to her from a Vietnam veteran. Inside were the airborne wings he earned while in the military.

"For him to give me something he'd earned was quite touching," said Hardegree.

The thieves also stole Mike Hardegree's high school class ring and the iPod Nano he took with him into battle. So far, police have made no arrests.

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