Indianapolis woman searches for soldiers, strangers, in photo

(WTHR photo: Jennie Runevitch)
Soldiers in photo identified
Search for Soldiers in Photo
Search for soldiers in photo

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - An Indianapolis woman, who purchased an old photo of two soldiers by chance, wants to find out who they are and get the picture to their family.

The picture has become personal to Donna Dehoney over the years, just like the mission to bring them home.

Of all the family photos Dehoney displays at her home, and she has a lot of them (they cover nearly every wall, shelf and curio cabinet in the house) -- pictures of two strangers may carry the most meaning.

A photo of soldiers she doesn't know are featured prominently next to American flags from her uncle, a signed letter from President Bush for a family member's military service and a picture of her father-in-law who served during WWII.

"That's Robert Lee Chestnut. He served in the Navy," Dehoney explained. "But that other picture? I have had a lot of people who have come into my home and they'll say 'oh! who's that?' I don't know. He's loved by somebody. He's a patriotic man. He served and he deserves a place on my wall."

The military men, likely from WWII, have been on her wall for two years now and they sparked a search for Dehoney to find their family.

"I mean he's probably, they've probably got grandsons out there that would love this picture," she said. "I want somebody to look at that and say, 'that was my grandfather' or that was my uncle."

Donna discovered this picture by chance while looking for frames at a west side Goodwill store.

She has a lot of pictures, so she buys a lot of frames.

But this one seemed special: oblong-shaped with beveled glass. It reminded her of something her own family had long ago.

And when she brought the frame home and cleaned it up, she realized the photo inside was special, too.

"The picture just kept calling to me," Dehoney said. "Usually I just throw the pictures away, but the picture just kept calling to me."

Forever the patriot, Donna felt compelled to put it on display.

"They've deserved a place on this wall this whole time," she said. "These two fought. Somewhere. So, they're important."

But Dehoney also made it her mission to discover who these men are, where they're from.

She's put the picture on Facebook several times, but so far, no one's recognized them.

"I said, 'hey anybody has information on this gentlemen or it looks like brothers, if you want your picture, come get it'. It goes up on my Facebook on the anniversary of when I first put it on there, for Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July I'll throw it up there."

She's still hopeful she'll find their family.

It's become personal for her.

To many, these soldiers in a thrift store frame wouldn't mean much....after all they didn't cost much.

"Two dollars and 99 cents," Dehoney said, laughing, "unless it was half-price day! And then it was $1.50!"

But to Donna Dehoney, the photo's reunion with loved ones would be priceless.

"I really like these guys. I think I'm going to miss them if they do go, but if they don't go they've always got a place," Dehoney said. "And if the owners were found, I would be so ecstatic that they were finally home where they belonged."

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