William Kadar, 92, last saw his Army duffel bag in France in November of 1944, one month before he was captured by the Germans.
This Tuesday, the bag arrived at his home in Merrillville, Indiana. Kadar's stencilled name and serial number were still clearly visible on its side.
"It's still in good shape. Oooh, boy. Well, I finally got it," Kadar, an Army Tech Sgt. of Company A 36th Infantry Division 143rd Regiment, told the Post-Tribune, after admitting that he doesn't remember it.
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Shortly after losing his duffel bag, Kadar was captured by the Germans and was forced to march to a prisoner-of-war camp where he stayed until the end of the war, four months later. During that time, he lost close to 80 pounds.
Back in the States, Kadar didn't speak much of his war experiences to his family until grandchildren came along.
The bag arrived with a letter from a 16-year-old boy from Rehaupal, France. The teen found the bag in his grandfather's house. Because his grandfather's parents were killed when the Germans bombed their home, the teen saw the bag as a symbol of his family's history and was initially reluctant to return the bag.
The boy's uncle helped locate Kadar through the Texas Military Museum.
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"(The boy’s) uncle, Herve, contacted the Texas Military Museum first," Kadar's granddaughter, Arleen Haas, said. "A woman there, Lisa, found me through a website, Yuku. We had both used the website to post information regarding veterans. I had posted trying to find information on his unit and find other veterans who may know my grandpa. She saw this and connected me with the French family."
Haas told the Post-Tribune that Kadar and the French teen are planning to speak over Skype in the near future.
"It's given us a deeper understanding of what he and others went through," said Amy Parsons, another of Kadar's granddaughters. "We don't have that perspective in the U.S. as much. (Kadar) always said, 'It's a miracle I came home.'"
"I'm amazed it's been found, grateful that it was sent back to him, and bittersweet because he doesn't remember (the war), but parts of it do come back," Kadar's daughter, Lynn Sattler, added.