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WWII Letters Finally Returned To Family of Oklahoma Soldiers

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The box of letters were sold at an estate sale 15 years ago. The box of letters were sold at an estate sale 15 years ago.
The purchaser and a historian worked hard for years in order to return them to the family of the soldiers. The purchaser and a historian worked hard for years in order to return them to the family of the soldiers.
DRUMRIGHT, Oklahoma -

An estate sale purchase in Oklahoma turned up a priceless treasure.

More than 250 letters written by soldier brothers during World War II were discovered inside a box 15 years ago.

On Saturday, they were returned to their family.

Pamela Gilleland purchased a box of items at a Drumright estate sale in the late 1990s.

"And it was a dollar maybe for the big box," Mannford resident Pamela Gilleland said. "And I got it home… and I opened it up, and I was like, ‘Oh, this is cool."

Inside the tattered brown box were more than 250 pieces of written history.

Two brothers detailed their lives as soldiers in the U.S. Army during the 1940s.

"Then I read one, one letter that was it, it was too personal," Gilleland said.

They letters said "Harvill" on the envelopes.

Gilleland tried calling the only Harvill she could find in Drumright with no luck, but she wasn't about to toss them.

"If you throw it away, you're throwing away the vets," she said. "We owe the vets. You can't do that."

Historian Doug Eaton agreed.

"It was more than just letters," he said. "It was part of a family."

Eaton was tasked with helping find the family.

Once the story got out, it was a matter of letting the pieces fall in place.

"I was swamped with phone calls text messages and e-mails," Eaton said.

One of those pieces connected with the family of the brothers Eural and Robert Harvill.

Eural's children, Teri Winnett and Mike Harvill, drove from Texas and Tennessee to receive the letters and help shed light on the mystery.

"I can't believe it," Mike Harvill said. "I didn't know people could do things like that."

Winnett read her father's words about a date he went on some 70 years earlier.

"I won't get too thick with her because I don't want to get married...." he wrote.

Three months later they were married.

Along with letters, there are also Christmas cards, life insurance policies, even the patches of their uncle who served in England.

"It was a family reunion, it was like having my parents back for just a little while," Winnett said.

The Harvill's said they didn't even know the letters existed, but they weren't shocked because their grandmother kept everything. In this case, seven years of history tucked away inside a $1 hat box.

"Believe it or not, I think it's going to bring me a lot closer to my dad," Mike Harvill said.

It's a Memorial Day memory the Harvill family won't forget, thanks to the hard work of some patriotic Oklahomans.

"It was like a puzzle coming together, it was just incredible," Winnett said. "It was like they wanted to be home."

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