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REST OF THE STORY: Diggers recover MIA camera

The amazing Belgian MIA search team has done it again!

I had exhausted all possible resources in trying to find a camera I lost in July at the 99th reunion in Pittsburgh.

If I had enlisted the Belgians to conduct a search, I could have saved myself lots of time and grief. The grief was not over the loss of a Minolta 35mm camera. On the contrary, this was a perfect excuse to request a new digital camera for Christmas.

The grief I had was about the loss of pictures taken of Chuck and Dorothy Fidler. Chuck is the brother of Pfc. Ewing E. Fidler, E/394. Thanks to the 99th's on-site search team, Ewing Fidler's body was recovered in June 2001, and laid to rest at Rosedale Cemetery in Ada OK.

It's baffling how instantly we bonded with other next-of-kin at these reunions. So for the sake of preserving the memory of meeting the Fidlers, I would not give up the camera search.

I put a "lost camera" notice in the Checkerboard. Ironically, that's how the search began for my uncle, Pfc. Saul Kokotovich, C/395. In 1990 they published a list of 32 missing soldiers and asked for anyone with any knowledge to write to Dick Byers. Uncle Saul is now one of the 7,992 soldiers interred at Henri-Chapelle Cemetery in Belgium.

Soon after publishing my lost camera notice, Jean-Philippe Speder e-mailed me. He described my camera which was now in Belgium! He received a package from his good friend, Joe Keirn of Altoona PA. Two or three times a year, Joe used to send surprise packages to JP for birthdays and Christmas. Once again, here was another surprise package from Joe. The customs label read, "Addressee's camera left in the U.S. during recent vacation."

JP thanked him, said it wasn't his, and asked him where he got it. The Hertz dealership in Pennsylvania sent it to Joe Keirn, who rented the van for JP. Joe developed the film inside the camera to protect it from being damaged in shipment.

Thanks guys, I now have my pictures AND a new Sony digital camera!

On-site or off-site, with or without metal detectors, you can always count on the Diggers when it comes to recovering whatever we hold precious and dear.

Kathleen Winkle

2719 Monnier St.

Portage IN 46368

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