MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (TheBlaze/AP) — A World War II veteran who served in France during the war has been reunited with his Army-issued duffel bag nearly seven decades after it went missing.
To his surprise, 92-year-old William Kadar of Merrillville opened a carefully wrapped package Tuesday to find his drab green duffel bag inside. The folded up bag is still stenciled with his name and serial number.
Kadar tells the Post-Tribune he last saw the bag soldiers use for toting their gear in November 1944, a month before he was captured by the Germans. At the time, the now-elderly veteran was held for months, losing 80 pounds and going through what the Post-Tribune called a “harrowing” experience.
His granddaughter, Arleen Haas, says a letter in the package says a 16-year-old French boy found the bag in his grandfather’s house, tracked Kadar down and sent it to him. The Post-Tribune has more information about how the bag made its way back to Kadar:
Haas said the bag was found and kept by a family in Rehaupal, France until a 16-year-old boy found it in his grandfather’s house. Haas said the boy’s great-great grandparents were killed when their house was bombed by the Germans, so the boy’s grandfather — who was 10 at the time — was scarred by his memories as a civilian in wartime.
At first the boy was reluctant to return the bag since it was a symbol of his family’s history. [...]
After Haas, too, served in the military, some actions she took to examine her grandfather’s war experiences ended up paying off. The Post Tribune continues:
Haas served 10 years in the Army, and she got to retrace her grandfather’s footsteps while stationed in Germany. Haas collected the travels in a scrapbook for Kadar. Back in the states, she wanted more information on Kadar’s war experience and tried to connect him with fellow veterans in his unit. Haas tried to find a fellow officer that Kadar remember, but the man died recently before the two were able to meet. She put Kadar’s name and service information on a military forum, and someone contacted the family about the duffel bag.
“(The boy’s) uncle, Herve, contacted the Texas Military Museum first,” Haas said. “A woman there, Lisa, found me through a website, Yuku. We had both used the website to post information regarding veterans. I had posted trying to find information on his unit and find other veterans who may know my grandpa. She saw this and connected me with the French family.”
Haas says her family hopes to speak to the boy who gave the bag back through Skype soon.