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Indiana family's lost military ID tags found after FOCUS investigation

The U.S. Postal Service said they found the heirlooms on Friday the 13th.

Precious family heirlooms were lost in the mail until the family contacted FOCUS investigative reporter Paula Vasan. 

“WHAS was on my side. One hundred percent," said Barbara Shields, who lives in Indiana. 

Shields can breathe a sigh of relief now. 

“The fact that WHAS and you Paula helped us to get such a speedy recovery of these dog tags and a speedy solution to the problem, it’s just amazing," she said. 

Last week, she reached out to us, after seeing our months-long investigation into the U.S. Postal Service. Vasan mailed 284 letters to 71 people to track letter delivery time and reliability. 

“And I thought you know what, maybe she could help me in this situation too," said Shields. 

Her uncle Trewhitt Shields served in the military during World War II. Around his neck, he always wore military ID tags, also known as “dog tags.” For decades, they had been missing. But Barbara Shields found them in an old dresser just a few weeks ago. She mailed them to her uncle’s daughter in Alabama. It didn’t go as planned. 

“The card was ripped open and there was nothing in it," she told us last week.

Three days after our initial report on her struggle to find the missing family heirlooms, the U.S. Postal Service told us they had been found.

“I screamed out to my husband I said Barry they found them!" said Shields. 

Shields said she thanks her local Postal Service representative, Shelly Kingsley, who works at her post office in Elizabeth, Indiana.

The Postal Service told us they found the heirlooms on Friday the 13th.

“And I sent my family a Facebook group message that said see Friday the 13th is a lucky day for us," said Christy Lamb, Trewhitt Shields’ daughter, who received the dog tags. 

“This is a part of my father, his journey. He wore them in the Philippines during the war," she said. 

She said she hopes they will be passed on to grandchildren who will hear the story of their great-grandfather.

Meanwhile, in an email, Susan Wright, a USPS spokesperson, told us in part: “As the proud employer of 90,000 military veterans, we certainly appreciate the importance of these dog tags to the Shields family. We sincerely regret the concern and inconvenience this matter has caused. Proper packaging and security are essential when you’re sending valuables through the mail.”

“I think they did an excellent job in finding them so fast but I don’t think that it would have been brought to their attention without WHAS and Paula Vasan," said Shields. 

If you’re wondering where their military ID tags were found, the Postal Service told us they were in Atlanta, where mail goes that’s lost or damaged in transit. They say you can prevent that with proper packaging. 

The U.S. Postal Service said packaging tips and insurance information is available at the Post Office or on www.usps.com. Customers may also perform a missing mail search online. From the main screen, click ‘Help’ on the right-hand side of the page. From the drop-down menu, select the ‘Find Missing Mail’ button, then ‘Start Your Missing Mail Search’. A USPS account is required to do this search.

►Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the WHAS11 News app now. For Apple or Android users. 

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