Jerry Wilson was renovating his home in New Jersey when he discovered a leather trunk in the attic. Inside the trunk were love letters, telegrams and other mementos from World War II.
“It was like in this incredible little time capsule of stuff that we discovered,” he said.
Among the items was a photo dated 1945. All the mementos seemed to belong to a woman named Anna Tessar who had served as a nurse in the war.
Wilson did some investigating online and found that Tessar had married a man named Walter McGarry. Both are now dead, but they had four children, three daughters, and a son.
Wilson tracked down the son, Eugene. He was interested to see the items since he had no idea they existed.
“I knew she had served. She was a nurse during World War II,” he told CBS. “I knew my father, of course, was in the war. He was wounded in action in the Battle of Leyte. What I didn’t know was how they ever got together.”
The home Wilson was renovating was built by Walter McGarry in 1951.
Anna and Walter met when she was stationed in Georgia. This was very common in wartime. Men and women who were serving their country, in many ways, often became romantically involved and many of these relationships ended up in marriage.
Walter McGary served in the Pacific during the war and was wounded at the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The battle was an effort by the Americans to land amphibious forces on the Philippines. After an initial bombardment from the air, US ships managed to clear the Japanese navy from the Gulf, the Americans were then able to land on one of the biggest Philippine Islands.
The Battle of Leyte Gulf was to mark the beginning of the liberation of Philippine’s. Some claim it to be the largest naval battle in history.
It seems that after being wounded that Walter returned to the States and it was at this time that he met his future wife.
Their son was totally surprised- he was not aware of the letters. they would have been lost forever but for Walter coming across them by accident. It is not known why the trunk with its precious memories was just left in the attic and forgotten.
The couple’s son was deeply moved by the letters.
“It was just kind of looking at them from a different point of view as being young and falling in love during these tumultuous times,” Eugene said.
Anna died in 1989 at age 68; Walter passed in 1995 at age 78.