By: Sharon Aron Baron
The mystery of the Vietnam Veteran’s items that were found in a Coral Springs family’s attic has been finally solved.
Last June, Meghan Burns and Jeremy Teitler discovered medals, photos, awards and documents in their attic belonging to Private First Class Geoffrey Douglas Radcliffe Saunders while moving out of their home. “We had never put anything in the attic, but for some reason, Jeremy went up there to take a look and found everything.”
At first he believed the items belonged to someone in Meghan’s family, but soon they discovered they were obviously left by someone who lived there prior to them. They looked further and found a whole box of family photo albums belonging to Saunders’ mother. They took the items to their new home and started investigating.
Private First Class Saunders was mortally wounded by fire from a North Vietnamese machine gun on April 26, 1968 at the age of 19. Among the papers was a Miami address as well as photos of him as a little boy along with his sister. But where were his mother and sister? Burns looked online and couldn’t find any information, so she turned to us to get the story out.
Fortunately, Saunders’ second cousin Bernadette Flanagan was working on their family tree when her cousin Kathleen Stock saw our articles from Maryland and contacted Saunders’ sister. “I had met Geoffrey, but not his sister,” said Flanagan. “So my cousin found her and contacted her regarding the items.”
Darlene Stosik, the sister, contacted us and a meeting was arranged at Starbucks where Mehgan and Jeremy would be able to return all of the family’s items.
Stosik is three years older than her brother Geoffrey and works as an attorney with Conroy Simberg in Miami. She resides in Pembroke Pines with her husband and has a daughter who lives in Tallahassee. She was 21 when Geoffrey was killed and said that they were very close while growing up. It was a difficult time when he died, and she said that her mother didn’t give her many details regarding his death.
Stosik went through the items one by one and told stories about her brother and how he wanted to become a soldier. Since he had dual citizenship with Jamaica and the United States, he was not eligible for the draft, so he enlisted instead.
She believes her mother, who has now passed away, may have moved at one point and may and left some things at the rental property.
Stosik is very pleased to be reunited with her brother’s long-lost possessions as well as her mother’s photo albums.
“We are both very happy that we were able to locate her and that she will have Geoffrey’s medals, and also the albums and scrapbooks,” said Flanagan. “Thank you for all that you did by printing the articles about him.”
US Congressman Ted Deutch took an interest in this story and on August 19, 2015, presented Burns and Teitler Congressional Recognition for helping to return the medals to Geoffrey Saunders’ sister.
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