Richmond man finds WWI era papers, wants to return them - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Richmond man finds WWI era papers, wants to return them to family

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A Richmond man says he found documents that were too important to throw away - army discharge papers from the World War I era. Now he's looking to get the document in the right hands.

"I was going though my stuff the other day, and it popped up again, and I'm like, 'Ok, this has just got to get out of my hands,'" said Jerry Bagby.

What Bagby has been holding onto is more than 90 years old.

"It's an honorable discharge from the United States Army, and the guys name was Benjamin Wilkerson - he was a sergeant, and he was from Goochland, VA, and he was actually discharged in December of 1918, and it was legally stamped 1919," said Bagby.

Bagby found this document while walking down the street near 16th and Maury in South Richmond 14 years ago. He says it was just lying here like a piece of trash. Now finding the soldier's family has become his passion.

"I have done Google searches, I have been to local places, nobody can track it," said Bagby.

So he reached out to NBC12 for help. His mission is simple.

"I just thought that this document would be best in the hands of his great grandchildren. By now, I felt a moral obligation to give it back to his family," said Bagby.

So why such passion for a piece of  paper for a soldier he'll never meet?

"It speaks to his sacrifice for the country, but not only that, some of the challenges that he must have faced in those time," said Bagby.

He has a message for the Wilkerson family.

"I would just like to say this belongs to you. I have held it, I have kept it for you, and I wanna give it back to you, cause it's yours."

If his efforts are not successful this time around, "I will keep it another five years if I have to, but hopefully I won't have to," said Bagby.

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