Wayne Hillman didn't know two photos of himself from the Vietnam War era were even missing, until he got a call from his son Tuesday telling him they had been found at Catholic Central High School in Windsor.
"I am so fortunate and happy to have these pictures returned to me," said Hillman, a long-time advocate for veterans in Windsor.
Hillman was 18-years-old when he went off to fight in the conflict. He had enlisted in the U.S. Army because he needed a job. He left one of the photos of himself in paratrooper training with his wife Trudy back in 1965. A note at the bottom read, "To Trudy with all the love in the world. Love Wayne."
During the war, Trudy kept the home fires burning with love letters to Wayne.
"She wrote everyday," he recalls.
Hillman and his wife accidently left the photos at the high school ten years ago during a talk with the students about the war.
Trudy passed away about two years ago from cancer.
Lost and found
A few days ago, drama teacher Ryan Turgeon just happened to find them tucked in a text book in the music room.
"This was a message back from mum on Valentine's Day," - Wayne Hillman
"In trying to speak with colleagues and staff, no one knew who he was," said Turgeon, who decided to post the pictures on Facebook to find the owner.
One of the vice principals found Trudy's obituary online and the information led to Turgeon getting ahold of Hillman's son.
The school presented Hillman with the two photos, now framed, at an assembly Wednesday at the school.
Now Hillman and his daughter feel this was Trudy's way of sending her love of 50 years a very special valentine.
"This was a message back from mum on Valentine's Day," said Hillman. "They're going to go on my mantel for sure. Along side her picture and the grandchildrens' pictures. I'm not going to let them get lost again."