GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. (AP) – The owner of a UPS store in Minnesota spent four years searching for the intended recipient of a package filled with mementos before he found the man living in Georgia.
The package ended up at Randy Holst’s UPS store in Golden Valley after several failed attempts to deliver it. Holst finally opened it and discovered a military veteran’s mementos: a framed military flag, spent shell casings, newspaper clippings and other items.
“You wouldn’t toss a memory like that,” said Holst, whose father was a veteran. “I can’t imagine anyone would.”
The name of veteran Carl Burnett Burchell was on several items, so Holst called the Department of Veterans Affairs looking for information about the man. When the agency couldn’t help, Holst took his search to the internet.
He sent more than 40 Facebook messages to people with potential ties to Burchell. He finally reached the wife of a man named Tim Burchell on Facebook last month. Tim Burchell confirmed that the items belonged to his father, a Navy veteran who died of cancer in 1988.
“It’s just priceless,” Burchell said of the parcel’s contents. “Obviously the flag is just a treasure trove right there.”
The box also contained old family photos, letters from Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan thanking the elder Burchell for his military service, and a game of Scrabble, which Burchell’s dad played while receiving chemotherapy.
It turns out Burchell’s stepsiblings had mailed the box to an incorrect address in 2012, after Burchell’s stepmother died. Burchell wasn’t expecting the box, so he didn’t know it was missing, and his stepsiblings themselves then moved.
Burchell, who lives in St. Marys, Georgia, said he’s incredibly grateful Holst took the time to find him.
“I want to make sure he gets the credit he deserves,” Burchell said. “One little touch of kindness is contagious.”