RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – A Rio Rancho man is trying to track down the family of a World War II veteran, after personal items belonging to the dead soldier wound up at his American Legion Post.
Certificates, Army discharge papers, a hand-signed thank you letter from President Truman, and at least a dozen black and white photos. Richard Hassel, a U.S. Navy Veteran, is trying to give all of these precious belongings back to the family of the soldier in those pictures, Burton R. Hale.
Hassel says a woman recently called American Legion Post 118 in Rio Rancho, asking what to do with all the mementos that her father was holding onto for some reason before he died.
Hassel asked her to drop them off with him, he would do the rest. Now, he’s determined to return it to Burton’s family.
Hassel says Burton died in July 1992 and is buried at the National Cemetery in Santa Fe. He says he was able to track down a family member through cemetery records but is unable to get in contact with them. He says the cemetery isn’t allowed to give them their number.
For now, he plans to keep looking but says if all else fails, he’ll donate everything to the state’s Veteran Museum.
Hassel says if you’re related to Burton R. Hale, or know someone who is, give him a call at 720-261-7807.