WWII Soldier Has Wallet Returned 70 Years Later
by Kirsten Howard
Dr. Josef Ruckhofer was renovating his late grandfather’s farmhouse in Austria when he discovered something that didn’t just seem out of place, but also out of time.
A leather wallet had seemingly been placed under a floorboard many years before. When the doctor investigated further, he found the wallet had been hidden there for safety 70 years earlier by an American soldier.
Back in 1945, Texan Eligio Ramos had been liberating prisoners from nearby villages with his platoon, the 250th Field Artillery, when they were offered shelter in the farmhouse overnight by Ruckhofer’s grandfather. The soldier had completely forgotten his hidden wallet when he departed the next day.
Ruckhofer decided to track down Ramos using his old military ID, which was still inside the wallet.
“Given that we’ve been commemorating the 70th anniversary [of the second world war] this year, I thought it would be a nice idea to find the owner and maybe return his wallet, if he was still alive,” Ruckhofer told AFP.
The doctor finally found 91-year-old Ramos in Fresno, California.
“I sent a letter with a copy of the identity papers and a few of the photographs to that address, asking him to get in touch if he was the owner,” he explained. “After a week or so, I received an email from his son confirming that I’d found the right Eligio Ramos. He said he would be very happy if I could send him the wallet.”
Ramos’ daughter Sylvia Gonzalez described receiving the letter to ABC News.
“I was having breakfast at home with my dad like our usual routine three days out of the week, and I was reading through the mail when I stumbled upon the letter. I said, 'Dad! Look! Somebody found your wallet you lost in 1945 in Austria.’"
Ramos's son Rosando added: “Everything in the wallet is of sentimental value. He had a ton of pictures in his wallet in case he didn’t make it back. He wanted to have his family with him in his heart.”
Unfortunately Dr. Ruckhofer hasn’t yet been able to connect with Ramos and speak with him, but he remains hopeful that he will.
“As it turns out, he is the only survivor of his battalion,” Ruckhofer told AFP. “Maybe we’ll still find a way of talking directly to each other.”
The Ramos family plans to frame the photos that were inside the wallet as a keepsake for future generations.
This post originally appeared on our UK site.