Woman tries to reunite WWII soldier’s letters with his family

WWII Letters
WWII Letters

An Upstate woman is searching for the family of a World War II soldier she doesn’t even know. She wants to return some 1940s letters and documents that come from an abandoned storage unit in Asheville.

She tried online searches and social media with no luck. So she called 7news. We found free and effective local resources that can help you solve mysteries from the past.

Donna Stricklin-Heller has always been drawn to wooden furniture and crafts. So when she saw two jewelry boxes at a road-stand sale, she snatched them up.

“And when I got them home and opened them, I saw all these papers and they were from a solider to his wife back home. It kind of felt like a Nicolas Sparks novel to me, I kind of felt like I needed to do something,” said Stricklin-Heller.

Of all the newspaper clippings, receipts, photos and letters, Stricklin-Heller says the one Charles E. Young wrote to his wife in Asheville awakened the Greer woman’s desire to find the decedents of the wounded soldier who hoped to return stateside.

The letter starts out with “Dearest Darling,” and ends with “I love you with all my heart and soul, now and only, your husband, Charles.”

“I don’t even know these people and holding it in my hand is emotional for me. I can only imagine what it would be like for the family to actually get this stuff back,” said Stricklin-Heller.

For the last two months, she says online searches and Facebook messaging has turned up nothing.

“So that’s why I reached out to you guys,” she said.

7News called the Geneology department at the Spartanburg Public Library.

“Got a bunch of hits actually on Charles E. Young, who was in the letter. He was actually born in 1914,” said Charity Rouse the Director of Local History.

Ancestry Library, which you can likely access for free at most public library branches, can track down everything from a death certificate to a draft paper.

For military searches you can also order service records through the National Archives.

And Rouse suggests you even call the funeral home (listed on the death certificate) to ask for next of kin.

“The treasure hunt is part of the fun,” she said.

The library program search showed Charles Young’s wife was likely named May, and he was laid to rest by McCall’s Funeral Home in Marion in 1964.

Between the free resources, and spreading the word, Stricklin-Heller is hopeful Charles E. Young’s legacy will return home soon.

“Anyone else might have thrown it in the trash but I just couldn’t do it.”

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