Daughter Of Soldier Killed In Action During Korean War Reunited With Father’s Lost Duffel Bag

Photo Credit: News12 Connecticut

The daughter of fallen World War II and Korean War veteran Joseph W. Sullivan is singing the praises of an Indiana couple after they returned to her a duffel bag that once belonged to her father.

Joseph W. Sullivan's duffel bag on a dining table
Joseph W. Sullivan’s duffel bag. (Photo Credit: News12 Connecticut)

Eileen Sullivan Alber was just four years old when her father was killed in action on November 30, 1950 while serving oversees during the Korean War. At the time of his death, Joseph W. Sullivan was assigned to the 27th Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division near Kunu-Ri, North Korea.

“My father died a hero trying to save people,” Alber told News12 Connecticut. “I have no memory of him at all except a couple of pictures. I always wanted to have something with me of him.”

Military portrait of Joseph W. Sullivan
Joseph W. Sullivan. (Photo Credit: News12 Connecticut)

According to Indiana resident Roger Goodland, he came across an Army-issue duffel bag at a surplus store in 1946 and purchased it to use when camping. He’d noticed a name stencilled on it – Joseph W. Sullivan – and was wondered about its previous owner.

“I so many times looked at that bag and wondered who Joseph W. Sullivan was,” he said. “Before the internet, there was no way of being able to find him.”

Eileen Sullivan Alber sitting down
Eileen Sullivan Alber. (Photo Credit: News12 Connecticut)

Goodland found his answer while he and his wife were browsing the Korean War Project‘s website. They came across a plea from Alber, in which she asked for anyone with mementos or stories about her father to get in touch with her.

“When we found Eileen’s posting that was so touching, there was no doubt that that was where the bag needed to go,” said Alice, Goodland’s wife.

The pair were able to track down Alber via Facebook and arranged for the duffel bag to be sent to her from their home in South Bend, Indiana. It arrived in time for her 75th birthday and elicited a host of emotions.

“It was such a warm feeling to touch the handle of a bag that he touched many, many times,” Alber said.

Recently, the Goodlands were able to meet with Alber via Zoom, where she shared her appreciation for their efforts in returning the duffel bag.

“My family is so grateful to you and Alice for blessing our life with this gift,” she said.