A man whom I will call “Mr. B” was an immigrant to the United States from Czechoslovakia. In 1948, he was living in Richmond, Texas. He had received a letter from a friend of a friend still living in Czechoslovakia. The friend had a special favor to ask Mr. B – to please help him find the next of kin of the owner of a ring he had found in Germany in September 1944.
With the information he had been given, on January 5, 1948 Mr. B wrote to the Veteran’s Service Office in Richmond requesting the name and home address of the family of John Oliver (Jay) Buslee. He received the following letter in reply:
21 January 1948
AGRS-DC-8 301 Buslee, John O.
(5 Jan 48)
Veterans Service Officer
Reference is made to your letter in which you request the name and home address of the next of kin of John O. Buslee, serial number 0 764 209.
It is a long established policy of the Department of the Army to protect the privacy of the next of kin of former military personnel. However any communication intended for the next of kin will be forwarded to the last known address if transmitted to this office.
Charles D. Carle
This communication between Mr. B and the Veterans Service Office began the quest to return John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s ring to his parents. In subsequent letters, we will learn how the man in Czechoslovakia, whom I will call “Z”, came to possess the ring. We will also learn that this was the second time Z attempted to reunite Jay Buslee’s ring with his parents, something he had tried to do three years before – in 1945 – but was unable to accomplish.
The letters show the dedication and persistence of a man on one side of the world to bring some peace to another family far away, the family of a man he had never met, but who he felt a bond with through the tragedy of war. The letters also open a window to what another part of the world was like during and after WWII.
This transcription is a careful reproduction of the original except for occasional spelling and punctuation corrections. Some names have been masked to protect the privacy of those individuals and their families. In some circumstances, based on relevancy or a desire to mask locations, some material may not have been transcribed.
Thank you to John Dale Kielhofer, John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s nephew, for sharing these letters with me.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014