Long-lost photos from a Marine’s military days might have remained missing for another 25 years.
But Monique Bourassa Fuchs found the Vietnam War-era photos — along with a letter from the late FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover — above her kitchen while renovating her home.
Fuchs, 65, soon went on a weeklong sleuthing mission to find the owner. And with a little help from the South Florida Sun Sentinel, she found him. Robert D. Wells made the drive to Lighthouse Point on Friday to retrieve the envelope he left behind years ago when he moved.
They hugged in a sentimental moment, and she thanked him for his service. He’s a 74-year-old retired Marine who sold the house in 1994 and now lives in Delray Beach.
The black-and-white photos, taken while on tours of duty in Panama, Cuba and Puerto Rico, were carefully preserved in an envelope along with a letter from Hoover in 1969 responding to his request for a job with the FBI.
With Wells looking on, Fuchs pulled the letter from a yellowed envelope.
“And that is your famous letter,” she said, handing it to him. “Now you have it.”
Wells said he didn’t realize the letter had gone missing until he got a call from the Sun Sentinel on Wednesday.
He saved it, he said, because he was stunned Hoover had bothered to reply. It even has Hoover’s signature on it.
Fuchs pulled out newspaper clippings from his days as a Marine.
“You have all the clippings,” she said. “Remember that?”
Wells said he did, then began parsing through all 64 photos.
“This is a two-star general who came out to see us,” he said of one shot. “I remember that now that I see the picture.”
Fuchs pointed to another photo of him as a young man.
“I figured that guy was 35,” she said.
“That guy was 26,” he replied.
“I figured he might be dead,” she said. “So I tried to find your son.”
Wells told her his son, Judson, lives in Nashville and will soon inherit his dad’s photos.
“At this point, I’m starting to give some of these things to my son,” he said. “I think he’d appreciate them.”
Fuchs, whose late husband died in February, told the Sun Sentinel the sleuthing project helped distract her from her grief.
“It gave me something to do,” she said. “It’s been hard since I lost my husband.”
On Friday, she told Wells she had been determined to return the photos to their rightful owner.
“You’re a very persevering lady, that’s for sure,” he said with a smile.
After he drove away with his photos, Fuchs burst into tears.
“It’s so emotional for me,” she said. “I am so happy.”
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