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An old, discarded footlocker helped an elderly man reconnect with his father, decades after his death.

Don Parthree, 79, was recently reunited with an old, wooden footlocker filled with mementos of his father’s days serving in World War II thanks to three men who refused to give up.

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The footlocker caught the eye of a stranger, veteran Roger Briney of Hanover County, Virginia, just moments before it was crushed in a dumpster. He spotted the American flag just in time.

“As I lifted the lid up, the guy at the dumpster started to crush the pile,” Briney told WTVR. “I was mad as heck because someone threw away the flag.”

Briney managed to save the footlocker and took it to a friend, amateur historian Walker Gaulding, who discovered the footlocker once belonged to Colonel Clyde Parthree.

Inside the footlocker were piles of pictures, passports and newspaper clippings.

Gaulding reached out to a friend, Nigel Mulvena, who helped search for Parthree’s descendants.

He was able to get in touch with Parthree’s son, Don Parthree, who lives in La Plata, Maryland. Don Parthree and his daughter made the trek to Virginia to reclaim their history.

Don Parthree was moved to tears by what he found inside the box.

“Here is their marriage license. My father’s passport. July 18, 1956,” Don said. “Another cigarette lighter from Paris, France.”

Parthree was grateful to the three men who helped reunite him with his father.

“I’m so happy having it now,” Don said. “You’ve made me feel real good again.”