Bear with me, this may be a long one, but worth it, and will put a smile in your heart.
At the beginning of December a friend at my local gun club gave me a book which he had found in a second hand store, for £1.It was a US soldiers WW2 handbook. It contains all the information a GI would need, how to correctly wear his uniform, clean a gun, different types of vehicles etc. He pointed out the front cover and said to see what I could find out about him, as I have previously done a lot of Genealogy research.
On the front of it was a name,serial number and NY in ink and inside in pencil USA 1941. It also said "Please return to", well, that's it, challenge accepted!
A quick Google search found a couple of people matching the name, narrowing them down by age got it down to two, one alive, one deceased.
A friend in Kentucky carried out a genealogy search via another forum and also to check with the US records office in Missouri, as he was a WW2 vet and has better contacts than me in this respect.
Now we have it down to one, the guy who is deceased, and so began the search for a next of kin.
His military records and NI number showed him as coming from Montgomery NY. Now, I don't know if you know this but every US town has a Chamber of Commerce. A Google search found a phone number for the office in Montgomery, and so I called.
The woman I spoke to was very surprised that I was going to so much trouble, I explained that its not my book and should really go to surviving family member. She said she hadn't been in the town long and would pass on my details to someone who had lived there longer and who may know the family.
A week went by and so I thought I would call again, to check they had my correct contact details. As soon as the phone was answered they knew me straight away and passed me through to another lady named Heather. She explained that she had gone to school with someone of the same surname and that there used to be a big family in the town with that surname. If I could leave it with her she would make enquiries and try and track one of them down.
Monday afternoon sat in front of the TV the phone rang. The caller said Hi and that Heather had passed him my contact details. I asked him if he was related to the name on the front of the book and he replied that it was his father, and read me his army serial number which matched what was wrote on the book. I replied that I have something that belongs to you.
He went on to say that his father was based in Dover during WW2 in preparation for D-Day where he landed on Utah beach. His father passed away in 2000. He said he was very proud of his father and that he was a great man and has two photos of him on his bookcase, one in his Army uniform and one taken just before he passed. You could hear the emotion in his voice and he had to keep pausing to re compose. He thanked me for going to all the trouble to track him down and that it had really made his Christmas this year.
He is now retired and living in West Virginia with his wife, kids and grand children. And will soon be in receipt of his fathers book that he never knew about.
Have a great Christmas everyone.