Family gets WWII soldier's message, 70 years later | News

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Family gets WWII soldier's message, 70 years later

WINDHAM, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A special kind of "family reunion" happened at Radio Shack in Windham Monday night -- made possible by the power of social media.

In 1945, a WWII soldier named William Austin made an audio recording from basic training in Texas. He mailed it to his parents in Auburn, Maine.

Decades later, a man named Mike Esposito, co-owner of the Windham Radio Shack, is buying 100,000 records from a collector.

He happens to find Austin's audio recordings inside another records case.

Esposito tried to track down the family by looking up Austins in the phone book -- but he couldn't find them.

Recently, Esposito decided to try a more modern-day approach. He posted a Facebook status.

"Many of you know that I have record store in my Radio Shack in Windham, Maine. In one of the collections I found a recording of a young man sending home a message to his family. He was in the Navy and the date on the envelope is 1945. He was stationed in Orange, Texas. His name is William Austin...I have had this in my possession for about 15 years and have tried to cold call Austin's in Auburn in the past. The son that sent this would probably be around 90 now. I hope this post will be shared by all of you so that this record will be reunited with his family."

The status was shared so many times that it reached California.

"A cousin in California that I haven't spoken to for years friended me on Facebook and said, 'I've posted something on your wall and you really need to read this because I think it's your dad,'" said Dorna Davis.

That cousin was correct.

Dorna, her brother Barry, their mother, Dorothy, along with several other family members, made the trip from Central to Southern Maine to meet at the Windham Radio Shack.

Esposito had an antique record player set up. He pulled out the two audio recordings, and played them for the family.

"We sure do have a lot of fun," said Austin, in the recording. "I have a few buddies down here. The first thing I want to do when I get home is take dad out fishing."

It was a moment that made many members of the Austin family smile, laugh, and cry.

"It's a tremendous, tremendous, gift," said Barry, his son.

"It's pretty remarkable," said his wife, Dorothy.

Thirty years after he died, his family never expected to hear his voice again -- certainly not in an audio recording they never knew existed -- and certainly not in a Radio Shack, in Windham.

The family plans on turning the records into CDs so they can distribute them to the rest of their family.


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