"I have to give you a big old hug for reaching out and finding us," said Donna Redding as she hugged Teresa Aguilar for the very first time.
While sifting through photo frames at Good Will, Aguilar of Emory came across a sailor's portrait. She bought it for three dollars with the hope that she could find the sailor or his family and return the photo.
She later learned the sailor's name, Sean Casebolt.
"Yes, I do know how it got to Good Will, he had been cleaning out some old picture frames and didn't realize it was in there and it got put in the box along with all of the other picture frames and donated to Good Will," explained Redding, Casebolt's mother.
Aguilar is from a military family and actually has a son who is about to go into Navy boot camp.
When searching through the frames at Good Will, this photo touched her heart.
"When you find something like this, there's somebody out there that treasures it and wants it back. It's not always on purpose that it gets there," Aguilar said.
So, she came to KLTV and also shared the photo through Facebook.
"I believe there had been about 44,000 hits on the internet and that's a lot of people looking for one person," Redding said.
Aguilar said someone recognized the man in the photo and gave her the name Sean Casebolt. How to contact the sailor was still a mystery, but it did not stay that way for long.
"His brother had a friend in Alaska that had shared the photo and he said he saw the picture and said, 'That's my brother!'" Aguilar said.
Casebolt's mother and Aguilar arranged to meet in Emory so Aguilar could finally return the photo to the sailor's family.
"I had the small one, you have the big one I want," Redding said as she showed Aguilar a smaller picture of her son.
It was then that Casebolt's mother could help piece together the story of this mysterious sailor.
"It was taken in the mid 90's when he was at the Great Lakes Training Station up in Illinois. He started off in the reserves, from the reserves then he went to the regular Navy, and he was stationed over seas for several years and then came back to the states, got out of the Navy and joined the Coast Guard," Redding explained.
A search started by one East Texas woman and picked up by thousands from all over the nation.
"Oh, I think it's miraculous. It just sort of makes you feel like you're all family like we really should be. So, I think it is a wonderful effort on her part and on the part of the people who kept pushing the picture along," Redding said.
Thanks to their dedication this portrait has finally made it's way back home.
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