MOUNTAIN GROVE, Mo. -- Jerry Schuster picked up an old trunk at an auction in Hartville a little earlier this year to store Legos for his grandchildren. When he bought the trunk, it was filled with aged newspapers, an antique watch and a 48-star American Flag. After he looked closer at the items, Schuster realized, aside from its age, the flag had a story to tell.
"Well at first I didn't know, I didn't recognize it as a funeral flag until I took it out and I saw how it was folded," said Schuster.
That story was revealed in two of the old newspapers and an index card that was folded in the flag. The military funeral flag belonged to the family of Lt. Eugene Craig of Hartville.
Lt. Craig was a flight instructor in Waco, Texas, who trained pilots, many of whom likely fought in World War II. At the age of 25, Lt. Craig died when his plane collided with another in the Texas sky.
Schuster says it didn't feel right keeping the flag or the newspapers that told the story of Lt. Craig.
"I thought, 'Well, this is very interesting, but it's not really mine. It's not mine. It doesn't belong to my family, but it belongs to somebody's family.' I think, if it were me, I'd like to have it back," said Schuster.
Schuster was going to donate the belongings to a museum. His daughter, though, had a different idea. Roxie Schuster searched for Craig's family on the internet for more than a month.
"I noticed on Ancestry.com when I put in his name, Lt. Eugene Craig, that his father had about nine brothers and sisters. So that's how I found a second cousin who lives in Arkansas," said Roxie Schuster.
Sixty-seven years to the week that Lt. Craig was buried in Hartville, his extended family will be getting the flag and newspapers.
Jerry Schuster paid $15 for the trunk, but his gift to Lt. Craig's family could never have a price tag.
"I'm just happy that it's going to go back where it belongs," said Schuster.
Schuster and his daughter haven't decided whether they will mail the items, or drive them down to Arkansas so they can meet Lt. Craig's family.