SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) –We all know you don’t take something that doesn’t belong to you, that’s stealing.
But in war it happens all the time.
It’s called war booty or a souvenir and a Sioux Falls man is on a mission to fulfill a World War II veteran’s dying wish and return something that wasn’t his.
John Mollison, who is a historian, has a model airplane just like the one fighter pilot Claude Hone flew in World War II.
In 1944, a Japanese soldier blew himself up on an airstrip in Guam hoping to disable an airplane and kill the pilot inside.
That didn’t happen and what Claude Hone did following the explosion, haunted him for decades.
“Claude did what you do when you’re young and looking for a souvenir, he took the guy’s wallet,” Mollison said. “I have to be really delicate with this stuff.”
A wallet that contained pictures of Japanese soldiers, a couple of business cards and an old beer label.
“When I saw the beer label that’s what really brought this story home for me, this wasn’t just the dead enemy, this was a guy,” Mollison said.
Mollison says before Hone died, he asked him to do a favor.
“He said, if I give this to you, will you take this back to Japan and find the family or whatever,” Mollison said.
So Mollison has been on a mission for over 10 years now trying to find a family member, a friend or anyone who knew something about this wallet and its rightful owner.
Unfortunately Mollison hasn’t been able to locate anyone.
So now he’s going to return to Guam and the old airstrip where the Japanese soldier died.
He’s been working with the National Park Service to locate a final resting place for this piece of history.
“If the National Park Service can’t help me create an exhibit for it, I’m going to try and bury it at the old airfield, I don’t want to make it a big ceremony, I just want to make good on my promise, to Claude, and make good on the idea that this soldier’s memory is worth something,” Mollison said.
Mollison flies out on the 17th, next Friday, and will meet with the National Park Service on the 24th.