OAKLEY, Calif. (KTXL) — Picture this: The year is 1950 and an American soldier who is just 22 years old writes home.
“Dear dad and mom,” the letter begins.
Handwritten letters, photos and other mementos fill the pages of a scrapbook, painting a picture of a different time.
“He was a sergeant first class, and the letters and the pictures of his time in service. And then you start getting letters of him missing in action and not knowing where he is. And then finally a letter saying that they regret to inform the parents that he’s passed,” Karla McCleskey said.
Army Sgt. William F. Maus wrote often to his parents, Fredrick John and Grace Mona Maus, who lived in San Bruno before he shipped off to fight in the Korean War.
“It tells you that he was very, very loved. They were very close. His letters to his family. His parents are very sincere, loving,” McCleskey said.
McCleskey, a retired school administrator, is hoping to return the scrapbook to the family.
“Just looking at it, it just gives me the chills that this means so much to somebody and they don’t have it,” McCleskey said.
She was clearing out cold boxes from 15 years ago when she rediscovered it.
“The teacher left it on my desk. I don’t remember who the teacher was. There was not the name of the student who left it. So, it got boxed up, left behind, then put away,” McCleskey said.
After just one look through the pages, Lana Casey knew she had to help too.
“It makes the hair raise on your neck,” Casey said. “I hope that this will make a great Christmas gift to his family.”
Though the pictures are well preserved, the paper it’s bound to show every bit of the 70 years that have passed. Pages crumble with the slightest touch.
“Is he here? Did his remains get sent back to the United States? Where is he at? I just think for peace of mind we need to know,” Casey said.
Just like the photos inside, the scrapbook is a snapshot not just of a family’s history but a piece of American history.
“Everybody needs to know what our servicemen do for their country. And he paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Casey said.
“I hope that we can get this beautiful, tattered book back to them as soon as possible,” McCleskey said.
McCleskey also reached out to Congressman Josh Harder’s office to assist in the search for Sgt. William Maus’ family.
“It’s so important to make sure that we’re remembering our history, remembering the service of folks who lived in the greatest generation, like Sgt. Maus.
Harder is asking anyone with information to contact his Modesto office at 209-579-5458.