Wal­let lost in Aus­tria dur­ing WWII even­tu­ally re­turned to US soldier

The China Post - - LIFE -

A wal­let lost 70 years ago by an Amer­i­can soldier in Aus­tria dur­ing World War II was re­turned to its right­ful owner thanks to a doc­tor who dis­cov­ered the item in his late grand­fa­ther’s farm­house.

Josef Ruck­hofer told AFP on Thurs­day he had been ren­o­vat­ing the house near the city of Salzburg when he stum­bled across the leather wal­let un­der a wooden plank in June.

Mil­i­tary iden­tity pa­pers re­vealed that the purse had be­longed to Eli­gio Ramos, an Amer­i­can soldier from Texas whose bat­tal­ion had been sta­tioned in Aus­tria in 1945.

The wal­let also con­tained “fam­ily photos of a woman and child and old stamps, but no money,” Ruck­hofer said.

“Given that we’ve been com­mem­o­rat­ing the 70th an­niver­sary of WWII this year, I thought it would be a nice idea to find the owner and maybe re­turn his wal­let, if he was still alive,” he added.

Af­ter an online check of Texas phone di­rec­to­ries failed to turn up re­sults, Ruck­hofer ex­panded his search to the whole of the United States.

He even­tu­ally found a man in Cal­i­for­nia whose name and birth­day date matched those of the soldier.

“I sent a let­ter with a copy of the iden­tity pa­pers and a few of the pho­to­graphs to that ad­dress, ask­ing him to get in touch if he was the owner,” the Aus­trian ex­plained.

“Af­ter a week or so, I re­ceived an email from his son con­firm­ing that I’d found the right Eli­gio Ramos. He said he would be very happy if I could send him the wal­let.”

Ruck­hofer learned that Ramos had lost his wal­let when he and his bat­tal­ion spent a night at the Aus­trian farm­house.

The doc­tor said he had not been able yet to speak to the Amer­i­can be­cause he was in hos­pi­tal.

“As it turns out, he is the only sur­vivor of his bat­tal­ion,” Ruck­hofer said. “Maybe we’ll still find a way of talk­ing di­rectly to each other.

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