RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Love letters written from an American serviceman to his wife and young child have been discovered.
They were written nearly 70 years ago. And their discovery is reuniting a family with a shared tale of love.
Our story begins in June 2009. A man brought a battered suitcase to Robert Smith, who was then a detective for the police at the V.A. Medical Center.
It had been purchased at a storage unit auction years ago. It's origins were unknown.
"It was literally a time capsule," Robert Smith of the VA said.
And the story it told was of the life and death of a young American officer in World War 2, including literally hundreds of letters between he and his wife. Looking for clues, Smith opened a few.
"He was telling her that he misses her and the baby very much," he said.
He determined to find the young officer's family. It was a search that would consume much of his off-duty hours over the next four years.
The letters were written by Major Lamont Haas and his wife Betty Lou.
Smith would learn that Major Haas had left medical school and enlisted in 1941. In September 1944, he'd been lost in a mid-air collision over France.
The long search would eventually him to Major Haas' brother, living in Florida. The suitcase with its letters was shipped to him. More than 60 years after his death, Fred Haas was reading his brother's letters to his wife.
But the story was still incomplete. Haas had long since lost contact with his brother's family. Finally, his granddaughter came across one of Smith's posts.
This Valentine's Day weekend, the families, the suitcase, the letters will be reunited in Charlotte, N.C. Haas' daughter, just four-months-old when he was killed, will finally know her father through his love letters.
All because Robert Smith had been handed the responsibility, and couldn't turn away.