Suitcase full of WWII memorabilia returned


MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) — As Sue and Jim Younce thumb through an old photo album — she’s taken back to simpler times.

“This is a picture of my grandmother… These are school pictures of when I was in school… This is my baby picture right here. Oh, here’s my dad’s picture… That’s my dad,” said Sue.

The family photo album along with other pictures and memorabilia from WWII was recently found in an old suitcase — tucked away in a warehouse.

“I just couldn’t believe they were missing,” said Sue.

The couple moved a year ago — and not everything arrived in the move — the suitcase included. Fortunately it was found by the right people.

“Once they looked inside and saw what it was — they started to find out if they could find some family members because they knew it was important,” explained Jim.

With no luck in tracking down the owners — Lee, Crystal, and Lori Grandquest turned to FOX 10 News for help.  It came to us by way of Producer Carly Bragg, who enlisted the help of Investigative Producer Kellie Jones, who managed to track the suitcase to the Younces. The two families met Friday night.

“And they were as thrilled as we were,” recalled Jim.

“We just sat and talked for hours,” said Sue.

Sue told them about her two uncles J.B. and Ollie Dukes, who served in WWII. J.B. was a medic and Private 1st Class Ollie Dukes — killed in action in Germany 1943.

“This is a picture of Ollie when he was in service. This looks like a school picture, which we found in the suitcase,” said Sue. “This is his Purple Heart he received… And his name is on the back of it — Ollie H. Dukes.”

Also inside the old suitcase was Ollie’s Bible.

“He had this on him… This was one of his belongings that came back,” said Sue.

And nothing says sacrifice — like two 48-Star American Flags presented to the family.

“The older one is the flag that was on his casket when he was brought back and this is the flag at the funeral that was over his casket… That they folded and gave it to my grandmother,” explained Sue.

It’s a mini-time capsule filled with bittersweet memories.

“It was very emotional because it brought back a lot of memories,” said Sue. “I can remember going to his funeral, when his remains were finally sent back and the 21-gun salute and full military honors. I can also remember every Sunday walking down to the cemetery with my grandmother and placing flowers on his grave.”

But Sue also smiles when reading postcards from Ollie.

“I was about 4 and he addressed it — Miss Mary Sue Dukes.”

There were also lots of letters, including one from J.B.

“He wrote a lot in this letter. He says just a few lines — to let you know — I am okay Momma. Momma I had a card from you today and you said you haven’t heard from me in three weeks. I don’t know what is wrong. You worry too much — because you know if I was sick I would call you at once,” read Sue.

Less than a week before a very different Thanksgiving — Sue is most certainly thankful.

“It makes you feel good to know someone would go to that much trouble to try and get things back to who they belong to. It means a lot. It means a very lot to get it all back,” said Sue.

Sue says she acquired the memorabilia in the 60’s after her grandmother died and has always kept them together in the suitcase.

All content © 2020, WALA; Mobile, AL. (A Meredith Corporation Station). All Rights Reserved.