Sol­dier’s wal­let lost in ’50s makes it to fam­ily’s home

Daily Southtown (Sunday) - - Nation & World - By Michael Casey and Jo­ce­lyn Gecker

CON­CORD, N. H. — Sharon Moore had heard the sto­ries about her fa­ther get­ting his duf­fel bag stolen on his way back from the Korean War. The New Hamp­shire woman never ex­pected to see any of the con­tents.

In July, Moore re­ceived a Face­book friend re­quest from a stranger in France. She deleted it.

But the per­son re­sponded with a Face­book mes­sage ask­ing for help in find­ing the owner of a lost wal­let. At­tached were sev­eral black-and-white photos, in­clud­ing one of her mother as a young woman, and an­other of her aunt, as well as a tat­tered So­cial Se­cu­rity card and Mas­sachusetts driver’s li­cense.

“I im­me­di­ately saw my dad’s driver’s li­cense and my mother’s photo. I knew it was my dad’s wal­let,” Moore said of her fa­ther, Robert McCusker, who died a day be­fore her 20th birth­day in 1983. “I couldn’t be­lieve it. Re­ally, my dad’s wal­let af­ter all these years? It­was just weird.”

The brown leather wal­let was found in the base­ment of a build­ing in Chateller­ault, France, a small city about 185 miles south­west of Paris. Work­ers had tossed it out, but the build­ing’s owner, Patrick Caubet, no­ticed it on a pile of gravel and was drawn to the half- dozen pho­to­graphs and what looked like of­fi­cial doc­u­ments.

On closer in­spec­tion, he saw a field ra­tion per­mit dated Septem­ber 1950 be­long­ing to Cpl. Robert S. McCusker, as well as McCusker’s So­cial Se­cu­rity card and other mil­i­tary doc­u­ments.

It was un­clear how the wal­let ended up in the build­ing.

“The pho­to­graphs made it very sen­ti­men­tal and Sharon McCusker Moore and her brother, Steven, dis­play their fa­ther's wal­let and con­tents last week in Dover, N.H.

per­sonal, and re­ally gave me the de­sire to find the fam­ily they be­longed to,” said Caubet, who works in com­mu­ni­ca­tions for the French mil­i­tary.

“My grand­fa­ther and fa­ther were also in the war,” he said, adding that his grand­fa­ther had been in­jured by a shell in World War II and his fa­ther suf­fered se­ri­ous burns in the Al­ge­rian War. “I would have loved it if some­one had found pa­pers or other things be­long­ing to them and sent them to me.”

Caubet, who was in­ter­viewed in French, found a friend who spoke Eng­lish and they found an obit­u­ary for Moore’s mother, Jean McKen­ney McCusker, who died in 2014. They went in search of his rel­a­tives listed in the obit­u­ary, first post­ing the wal­let’s con­tents on Caubet’s Face­book page.

They tried con­tact­ing the Pen­tagon and the U.S. Em­bassy in Paris, but got nowhere. Then, Caubet sought the help of a French mil­i­tary of­fice in Paris, which tracked down the names of McCusker’s chil­dren. Caubet found Moore on Face­book last month and shortly af­ter the wal­let was headed to Dover, N.H.

“She was so happy to know there was this trace of her fa­ther,” Caubet said.

When the pack­age ar­rived, Moore and her brother, Steven McCusker, filmed them­selves open­ing the wal­let and emailed the video to Caubet, so he could share in their joy.

For Moore and her rel­a­tives, the wal­let rep­re­sents an­other part of a fa­ther who rarely talked about his time at war. He also fought in World War II, forg­ing a birth cer­tifi­cate at the age of 15 and run­ning off to the Mer­chant Marine. He then re-en­listed for the Korean con­flict and re­ceived a Pur­ple Heart af­ter he was in­jured in a grenade at­tack.

Moore gave the wal­let to her brother, Steven, who also lives in Dover, be­cause she al­ready has her fa­ther’s Pur­ple Heart, his dog tags and the flag from his cof­fin on dis­play in herh ome. The fam­ily also sent Caubet a gift bas­ket fea­tur­ing maple syrup from her back­yard, some of the candy her fa­ther en­joyed and a New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots jer­sey.

“It’s just amaz­ing. It’s just amaz­ing. To hold some­thing he held ev­ery day, there are just no words,” Moore said.

ELISE AMENDOLA/AP

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