Family Received Letter from US Serviceman 76 Years After It Was Sent

Photo Credit: U.S. Signal Corps - U.S. National Archives / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Photo Credit: U.S. Signal Corps - U.S. National Archives / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

The widow of American soldier John Gonsalves, who served during World War II, is thanking the United States Postal Service (USPS) after the organization delivered a long-lost letter from her late husband, some 76 years after it was sent.

Greek soldier writing a letter in the middle of a muddy road, while his horse stands off to the side
A Greek soldier pauses to write a letter home from Albania, 1941. (Photo Credit: Keystone / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

The letter was mailed by US Army Sgt. John Gonsalves in December 1945, while he was stationed in Bad Orb, Central Germany. It was intended to be delivered to his mother in Woburn, Massachusetts, but was never received. In fact, it remained lost until late 2021, when it was discovered at a USPS distribution facility in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Sgt. Gonsalves wrote:

“Dear, Mom. Received another letter from you today and was happy to hear that everything is okay. As for myself, I’m fine and getting along okay. But as far as the food it’s pretty lousy most of the time.”

He signed it: “Love and kisses, Your son Johnny. I’ll be seeing you soon, I hope.”

Four American soldiers surrounded by packages
American troops surrounded by holiday mail, 1944. (Photo Credit: Smithsonian Institution / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

When found, USPS employees began their search for John Gonsalves, who they discovered had passed in 2015. They then began looking for his next-of-kin and found the address of his widow, Angelina “Jean” Gonsalves, whom he’d met just five years after sending the letter. Prior to his death, they’d been married 61 years and had raised five children.

On December 9, 2021, Angelina opened a package, which contained the letter and a note from the USPS, in which the postal service expressed its condolences for her loss.

“We are uncertain where this letter has been for the past seven-plus decades, but it arrived at our facility approximately six weeks ago,” the note read. “Due to the age and significance to your family history… delivering this letter was of utmost importance to us.”

Members of the Women's Army Corps sitting at a table, sorting mail
At the Camp Breckinridge Post Locator Department, members of the Women’s Army Corps sort and identify incorrectly addressed mail for proper routing, 1943. (Photo Credit: US Army Signal Corps / Interim Archives / Getty Images)

Speaking with Boston 25 News, Angelina shared her surprise over the letter’s existence. “Imagine that! Seventy-six years,” she said. “I just, I couldn’t believe it. And then just his handwriting and everything. It was just so amazing. It’s like he came back to me, you know? Really. That was amazing. He was a good man. He really was. Everyone loved him.”

More from us: America’s Oldest World War II Veteran Has Died at the Age of 112

Upon receiving the package, the Gonsalves family called the USPS distribution facility to thank them for their efforts.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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