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Historic documents of young navy sailor from WWII uncovered inside a donated lockbox

The WWII memorabilia included Navy discharge papers, a letter signed by then-President Harry S Truman and several medals in good condition.

Historic documents of young navy sailor from WWII uncovered inside a donated lockbox
Cover Image Source: Facebook/ Oklahoma Goodwill

An Oklahoma NGO employees were in for a delightful surprise when they found well-preserved World War II documents in a hidden compartment in the lid of a lockbox. The memorabilia told the story of a young Navy sailor who was honorably discharged after serving his country, along with a signed letter by then-President Harry S Truman. In a Facebook post, the NGO named Oklahoma Goodwill revealed, "Our store team at the 164th & Santa Fe location in Edmond ended up in the middle of a historic treasure hunt when they uncovered World War II documents well-preserved inside a secret compartment of a donated lockbox." They added that based on the condition of the papers, "the team was confident the person who donated the lockbox likely did not know about their existence. Thanks to the quick action of Assistant Store Manager Katie Duer, we were able to identify the items that were donated by accident and were able to reunite them with the grateful family. A great way to kick of #VeteransAwarenessMonth!"

Cover Image Source: Goodwill
Image courtesy: Oklahoma Goodwill


While the box looked empty a secret lid inside was something that dated back to the 1940s. The discovery was made during a routine inspection of a donated lockbox. In a press release they added that they found World War II documents including Navy discharge papers, a letter signed by then-President Truman as well as several medals in good condition, the store said.  After some research, the team was able to identify a matching obituary, a relative in Edmond, and return the loved one’s history back to their family, the store said.  "We found out a lot about this gentleman," a Goodwill employee shared per CTV News. "He was a carpenter at one time. A lot of background. He went into the military right out of high school." They were able to reach out to one of his daughters living in Edmond. "His family had no idea those documents were in there, so we were able to reunite the gentleman's daughter with it," said the employee. "She seemed really pleased to get it back. She said she had no idea it was in there." In an interview with KOCO 5 News, one of the employees of the NGO showed where they found the letters in the lockbox. 



Goodwill affirmed that they always try to reunite owners with their items. “Over the past year, we’ve been able to reunite several customers and donors with their items and it’s always a great feeling to be able to do that,” director of Donated Goods Retail Dianne Beltz said. In another instance ShopGoodwill team was able to return a wrongfully donated OU class ring and an award-winning ARPA rodeo belt buckle to their owners, they said. Beltz reminded customers that time is extremely important in these types of cases. “The first 24 hours are usually the most critical,” Beltz said. “If we can track an item back to the store location at which it was donated and catch it before it enters our central warehouse – there are good chances our team is able to find it.”


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