Wallet lost during World War II returned

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MADERA COUNTY, CA - A wallet lost overseas during World War II is now back in the hands of a veteran in the Fresno, California area. That veteran and his family recently got the surprise of a lifetime when they learned the wallet had been found.

Sara Sandrik shows us how he got it back against all odds.

Eligio Ramos has seen more in his 91 years than many can even imagine, including the bloody battlefields of World War II.  He fought with the 250th field artillery and helped liberate starving prisoners.

(Rosando Ramos/Son) "They were coming out of the concentration camps and dying in people's arms, but at least they were free."

But one thing Ramos never expected to see again was the wallet he lost when his battalion took shelter in this Austrian farmhouse back in 1945.

(Rosando Ramos/Son) "They went through so many little villages and stuff and he didn't even think about the wallet anymore. They had other problems on their hands, so the wallet was very minimal."

But a letter that arrived in the mail on June 18th suddenly made it significant.

(Sylvia Gonzalez/Daughter) "To my surprise, when I was reading it and my dad was having breakfast. And I go look dad, they found a wallet and it's for you, and they're looking for you."

The letter came from Doctor Josef Ruckhofer, whose late grandfather owned the farmhouse in Salzburg where the soldiers stayed.

He found the wallet while removing some old wooden planks and then searched online for Ramos based on his old Army ID card.

(Via Skype, Dr. Josef Ruckhofer/Salzburg, Austria) "I was looking for the whole US, and I found one with the birth year there in California and I thought the name was right and the birth year is right so if he's still alive, I will try my luck and send him a letter."

Ruckhofer was excited to receive a response and soon shipped this small box containing the priceless cargo.

(Sara Sandrik/Madera County, CA) "After weeks of waiting, the wallet arrived here at Ramos's Madera County home, marking the end of a 6,000-mile journey."

And now it's back in this hero's hands for the first time in 70 years!

(Eligio Ramos/World War II Veteran) "I would like to thank the man."

The leather wallet is weathered but still intact and was filled with dozens of family photos.

Several relatives gathered at Fresno’s VA Hospital Tuesday to share in this special reunion.

Including those in the pictures. Ramos' children say this lost and found treasure will now be cherished for generations to come.

(Rosando Ramos/Son) "This wallet, if it could only talk. It's been through a lot so we're going to frame everything that was inside, all the pictures, all the military paperwork he had in there.  Everything will be on exhibit at our house, haha."

Google Map for coordinates 37.251926 by -119.696268.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.