Family is ‘Thankful’ for Treasure Returned to Them 73 Years Later

   Written by on November 22, 2017 at 11:13 am

Family is thankful--Bible Family is thankful--Edwin Family is thankful--Leon Whiteman Family is Thankful--mary Beth and Carolyn Family is Thankful-Bible insideVICTORIA – With Thanksgiving here this week, one local family is thankful that a man they had never met took the time and effort to return something to their family. After 73 years, a “Heart Shield” military New Testament Bible found its way back to members of Edwin Vaughan’s family.

The story began in 1944 when Edwin Vaughan entered the United States Navy on May 8, 1944. During his travels that included time in Florida, California, and Hawaii and off the coast of Japan during battle in WWII, this Bible was lost and eventually crossed the path of former U. S. Navy Pharmacist Leon Whiteman.

Mr. Whiteman said that a former serviceman, who lives at the same Lancaster County retirement community as he does, approached the concierge lady at the community to inquire if she knew anyone living there who would be able or willing to look up a sailor for him.

During his time in the military, the man had found a New Testament Bible in Pensacola, Florida in 1944. At the time, Pensacola was a Naval Air Training Station. This led to the belief that the Bible had belonged to someone in the Navy.

Knowing of his military past, Leon Whiteman was contacted and asked if he would attempt to find out something about Edwin Vaughan, the man identified inside the Bible as the owner. Mr. Whiteman stated, “I readily agreed, especially since he was a former U.S. Navy medical Corpsman.”

At that point, Mr. Whiteman began his search for the owner or their family. It started with web-based searches that included Ancestry.com, and other web sites. He began to piece together some clues and information about Edwin Vaughan. He narrowed the search down to six other Edwin Vaughans in WWII. At that point, he noted in his correspondence that it took some further checking in an attempt to pick the right one. He then got a breakthrough in his search when he found that Edwin had died in 2000 and the funeral home that had handled his funeral was Clarke-Staples Funeral Home.

Mr. Whiteman was able to find contact information and on Monday October 30th, he contacted the Lunenburg funeral home, and explained his reason for calling. He talked with Richard Harris about his search and Richard agreed to contact the family. Mr. Whiteman stated, “The following Thursday he contacted me and stated that Carolyn (Vaughan) Lewis, who is the daughter of Edwin Vaughan, would be contacting me and as they say, ‘the rest is history’.”

Carolyn Lewis and Edwin’s wife, Mary Beth Vaughan, expressed how happy they were that this part of their father and husband’s past had been returned to them after so many years.  Mrs. Lewis stated, “I cannot express how thankful we are to receive this precious treasure. We do appreciate so much that the man who found it kept it safe all these years. It must have meant a great deal to him, too. What a blessing that is. I want to give my heartfelt thanks to Leon for his efforts to find us. As this piece of heritage gets passed down through generations, you can bet this story will be too.”

The Bible has a steel cover on it, and has instructions inside of it noting that it is designed to be worn in the left vest pocket to cover the military man’s heart.  There are recorded instances where covers such as this actually deflected a bullet, thus saving the man’s life. On the outside of this New Testament were the words, “May this keep you safe from harm” and on the inside is, “Presented to Edwin Vaughan, From Mother and Daddy”.

Mr. Whiteman, who is 90 years of age, and a former U. S. Navy Pharmacist’s Mate 2/c, in WWII,  stated, “I am thrilled to have a part in finding the rightful owners of this valuable New Testament. After over 73 years the mystery has been solved.”

Leave a Reply