LAGUNA BEACH (CBSLA.com) — He first found the box about 12 years ago while renovating his Laguna Beach home.
A recent re-model reminded Tom Valter that the old, rusted-over box of military medals and memorabilia was still there.
Valter, 58, isn’t sure what era the Marine fought.
Could it be WWII? He thinks it’s more likely the Marine fought in Korea, one picture is dated 1951.
The box first turned up in the dark recesses of a small closet, tucked away behind another closet inside the large 4-bedroom home.
For almost 12 years, he’s only thought of how to get the personal belongings back to the man they belong to — or his family.
The Marine’s name is John Ivans Taylor.
In the box, a water-stained good conduct certificate dated 1957. Taylor was a career military man who, at least, made the rank of corporal.
Valter told the Orange County Register, he has long wanted to reunite the box with Taylor, but “I always got too busy. But now is the time.”
He recently contacted a group that helps reunite veterans with their lost or missing medals.
Valter told CBS2’s Andrea Fujii, he never thought of throwing the box away. “I just never quite knew what to do with it,” he says.
Other buried treasures? Taylor’s tax returns and pay stubs that show he worked in maintenance for the LA Archdiocese. The box also contains his mother’s last will and testament
“These are somebody’s family heirlooms,” says Valter, “things I’m sure he would want back.”
A veteran with the Marine Corps League says the mystery of where Taylor is could be solved within a week. “I hope this brings him happiness or closure,” says Valter.