People find good deals every day — every minute, in fact — on the internet auction site eBay.
But finding something that belongs to you and happens to be a bit of world history as well is a rare occurrence.
Nevertheless, that's what happened to Bob Lynch, a Conception Junction native currently living in Vista, Calif.
Lynch was surprised over Christmas by granddaughter Michelle and her husband Sheldon Kennington, who were able to acquire Lynch's World War II U.S. Army dress uniform jacket, which the now-elderly veteran left behind in Europe when the war ended.
Thousands of GI's discarded such articles in order to avoid the expense or bother of toting them back home.
But Lynch penciled his name on the inside of the right sleeve, which is how the jacket found it's way back to him after nearly 70 years.
Kennington was contacted by a historian who was in the midst of writing a book about the Army's Company B, 60th Regiment, the "Go-Devils," when he came across the jacket on eBay.
The historian noticed Lynch's name and used the internet to locate Kennington, who acquired the jacket, along with Lynch's garrison cap, for $100.
Lynch still has family in the Maryville area, and one of his sisters, Dolores Lynch, has fond memories of her brother and other siblings.
"They are all so brave and hard-working" Dolores said of her brothers who fought in the war - and those that couldn't. "Even when Bob was a kid, he was always working. Just work, work, work."
Dolores and her siblings are now in their 80's, and the jacket find has inspired some members of the younger generation to try and learn more about their family's past.
Through websites and research, they have discovered a heritage rich in military tradition, including an ancestor named Thomas O'Connor who fought in the Civil War.
"You know, you hear all of these stories as a kid, and you finally grow up and it matters," Dolores said. "I thought I'd asked all of the questions, but when people are gone, you realize that you haven't really asked all of the questions."
That insight is one reason why the Lynch family is starting to compile a comprehensive story about its origins and accomplishments.
They've already discovered that some of their ancestors came to the United States from Ireland during the potato famine of the late 1840's.
As for more recent history, Dolores said her brother just recently began to talk about his war experiences and shared a number of stories in a family Christmas letter.
The message recounted his first time in combat along with other stories about the campaign in Europe. He said he wanted to share these memories so his family could understand what U.S. soldiers went through during such horrific events as the Battle of the Bulge.
Page 2 of 2 - In just over a year of service in Europe, Lynch saw more than his share of carnage, which is why he has held these stories inside for so long.
"My memory has faded, and I cannot remember details," Lynch wrote in the letter. "But maybe that's a blessing."
Still, an old uniform jacket has added a new richness to one family's story.
"You can always tell that times change," Dolores said. "But when people pass, the stories get lost unless you learn what happened."