HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A Huntington man who lost his dad many years ago had a unique opportunity to look back on some cherished memories this week. David McKee, who is now 75, lost his father in 1972. But this week he got a call from the Unclaimed Property Division of the office of State Treasurer John Perdue about a safe deposit box filled with items which had belonged to his father Mason McKee.
McKee said his brother was the one who put some of their dad’s effects in the safe deposit box in a Huntington bank. There was a concern the items would be misplaced by their mother who was also getting up in years. She had lost several items by putting them away, but forgetting where.
“I was oversees in the Navy when he did that. He put the gun and his medals and some other stuff in that safe deposit box in my name. But that was at First National Bank and they sold out to Chase years ago. I had forgotten all about it,” he said.
But when the Treasurer’s office revealed the contents it was no mystery to McKee, he knew the full story of the pistol and the war medals.
“He was in a hand to hand fight and a German ran a bayonet all the way through him,” McKee explained. “He dropped his Springfield (rifle) and all he had was that flare gun. He put it right in that guy’s chest and pulled the trigger. They said it burned that guy to a crisp.”
His father was evacuated from the battlefield and spent several months afterward recovering at an Army hospital in Paris. When he got home, he didn’t talk much about the war except with a buddy who had served alongside him. The elder McKee would also answer his sons’ questions about his service.
“I remember seeing that pistol and medals in his dresser drawer. But he never bragged about it,” said McKee.
Elated by the discovery, McKee said the memories of his dad came flooding back.
“I got a little money back too, but it could have been thousands of dollars and I wouldn’t have cared about that. Those medals and that pistol, that’s all I got left of my dad.”
McKee said his brother is now in a nursing home and his memory is fading and he unfortunately has no children to whom he can pass along the treasured heirlooms.
“I might see if I can find a military museum or something like that where they could display those things,” he said.