For over six decades, an Army uniform hung neatly in a closet somewhere near Kansas City, Kansas. Then, one day in 2023, a woman taking a walk discovered it in a ditch by the side of a rural roadway.
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Luann Palmer couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the pristine uniform, still on its hanger, flung carelessly onto the ground. She thought about her own father, and her immediate thought was to return the uniform to its rightful owner.
Luann took the uniform back home with her, then looked through the pockets for some clue about the person who once wore it. Like a treasured time capsule, the uniform offered up its secrets one pocket at a time. Inside one, Luann discovered a handwritten love-note penned by a woman and addressed to Howard Pennington.
The letter had a postmark from Verdun, France, on the date December 2nd, 1957. The letter from home was sweet yet heartbreaking, including phrases like “Sweetheart, my love, I miss you so very much.”
Armed with a name, Luann took the mystery to Facebook, where Molly Jennings and her daughter got involved.
“I shared it with my daughter, and she initially ran with it,” said Molly. “She started looking and the more she talked to me about it, the more I grew invested in it and I really wanted to know and try to find his family.”
The mother-daughter research team was able to track down some information about Howard. He was a soldier in the United States Army during World War II, and he’d been deployed to France to help build roads post-war. Sadly, he passed away just three days after the letter was postmarked. No one knows if he ever got to read the precious words written by his sweetheart back at home.
Molly and her daughter also tracked down the family of Howard’s commanding officer, plus one of the soldier’s great-nephews in Clinton, Missouri. No one has any idea where the uniform hung for the past 65 years, or how it ended up tossed into a ditch.
“I personally think it was in the possession of someone that’s maybe not related to him, maybe someone he served with, a close friend,” Molly opined. “I really just want to know who had it. I want to know why they kept it safe for 65 years.”
These amateur sleuths have resolved to keep searching for answers! They’re showing this soldier true respect by honoring his life, while acknowledging his ultimate sacrifice.
Share this story to spread the word and see if anyone you know has information about Howard or his uniform!
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