In this August 20, 2018 photograph, the lost wallet of Robert McCusker, a war veteran from the second world War, Korea, is shown with the contents on a kitchen table in Dover, N. H. McCusker lost his wallet almost 65 years ago in France. This was found on a construction site, and returned to his family in New Hampshire. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
CONCORD, N. H. – Sharon Moore had heard the stories about her father to his bag stolen on his way back from the Korean War. The New Hampshire woman never expected to see the content.
In July, Moore received a Facebook friend request from a stranger in France. She has removed. But, the person who responded with a Facebook message asking for help in finding the owner of a lost wallet. Attached were a number of black-and-white photos, including one of her mother as a young woman, and another of her aunt, as well as a torn Social Security card and a Massachusetts driver’s license.
“I saw my father driving and my mother the picture. I knew it was my dad’s wallet,” Moore said 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? It was just weird.”
The brown leather wallet was found in the basement of a building in Chatellerault, France, a small town about 185 miles (300 kilometers southwest of Paris. The workers had thrown, but the building of the owner, Patrick, For, noticed it on a mountain gravel and was drawn to the half a dozen photos and what looked like official documents.
Upon closer inspection, he saw a field ration permit of September 1950, which belong 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, although Moore said For the had heard that the building was once a social club for the American officers and agents might also have stayed there.
“The photos, it was very sentimental and personal, and really gave me the desire for the family to which they belonged,” said For, that works in communication for the French army.
“My grandfather and father were also in the war,” he said, adding that his grandfather had been injured by a grenade in the second world War and his father suffered serious burns in the Algerian War. “I would have loved it if someone had found papers or other things that belong to them and sent them to me.”
For, who was interviewed in French, found a friend, who spoke English and together, they found an obituary for Moore’s mother, Jean McKenney McCusker, who died in 2014. They went in search of his relatives mentioned in the ad, first booking of the portfolio of the content on For’s Facebook page. That prompted a number of responses from friends, including one who believes that the purse of the owner may “a soldier who fell in love with a woman.”
They tried to contact the Pentagon and the AMERICAN Embassy in Paris, but got nowhere. Then For the sought the help of a French military office in Paris, which tracked with the names of McCusker the children in just a few days. For the found Moore on Facebook the past month, and shortly after the wallet was gone to Dover, New Hampshire.
“She was so happy to know there was a trail of her father,” For said. “She was almost ready to come to France with her brother for the wallet. But I told her that I could send. I was so afraid it would get lost in the e-mail. But it came in less than a week. I was so happy.”
When the package arrived, Moore and her brother, Steven McCusker, filmed himself opening the wallet and e-mail the video to For, so that he could share in their joy.
For Moore and her family, the portfolio represents a different part of a father who rarely spoke about his time in the war. He has also fought in the second world War, the forging of a birth certificate at the age of 15, and running off to the Merchant navy. He then re-deployed 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, dog tags and the flag from his casket on display in her house. The family also sent For a gift basket with maple syrup from her backyard, some of the candy her father enjoyed and a New England Patriots jersey.
“It’s just great. It is just amazing. To keep, something he has every day, there are just no words,” Moore said, adding that her father would be “floored by the whole story and just be thankful and grateful, especially as a soldier who helped it back to us.”