For Immediate Release - January 03, 2017

Fall River District Assistant Chief Probation Officer Mark Costa Brings New Year Joy to Family of World War II Veteran

Fall River District Assistant Chief Probation Officer Mark Costa is starting his new year off by presenting replicas of stolen World War II combat medals to the family of a veteran whose precious military medals were stolen when he was a resident at an assisted living facility. 

An Army National Guard veteran, Costa traveled to Florida this morning where he will present the replicas to the son of World War II hero Frederick C. Sylvia Jr. at Veterans Memorial Sanctuary Island in Vero Beach, Florida. The presentation will take place on Wednesday, January 4th, at 11:30 a.m. The son and namesake of the veteran, Fred Sylvia, and his family now live in Florida. The elder Sylvia, a corporal who fought with U.S. Army General George Patton’s forces, earned a Combat Infantry Badge, a Good Conduct Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, the Victory Medal, and the European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Campaign Ribbon. 

Costa, who supervised the probationer involved in the theft of four of the medals, decided that he wanted to "make a bad situation right" for the elderly gentleman and his family. The offender involved in the theft of the medals was an employee at the assisted living facility where Sylvia resided. 

"I read the letter his son wrote to the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office and I decided then that I would try to get copies of the medals. He proudly served his country and earned the medals," Costa said. 

A 17-year Probation employee, Costa, spent nearly two years working with the Veterans Administration to have the original medals replaced. Sylvia wanted to be buried with the medals, including one that he earned while fighting during the invasion of Normandy. He died at age 92 in 2012. His son did not have the heart to tell him the medals had been stolen before he passed away. 

"Mark Costa has gone above and beyond his duties and I will forever be indebted to him," said Sylvia, the veteran’s son. 

Massachusetts Probation Commissioner Edward J. Dolan said, "The efforts of Fall River Assistant Chief Probation Officer Mark Costa to replace these priceless World War II medals and then travel to Florida to present them to the son of this veteran are truly commendable. Assistant Chief Costa has gone above and beyond in turning a bad situation into one that will bring joy to the family of a man who valiantly served our country. We are especially proud of Assistant Chief Costa, a veteran himself, and consider him a shining example of the Massachusetts Probation Service and the work we perform each day to help keep communities and the individuals who reside in them safe as well as assist victims and survivors of crimes." 

The Massachusetts Probation Service (MPS), which is a division of the Massachusetts Trial Court, established a Victim Services Unit a year ago to help victims and survivors of crime. MPS’s mission is to increase community safety, reduce recidivism, contribute to the fair and equitable administration of justice, support victims and survivors, and assist individuals and families in achieving long term positive change.