SAN ANTONIO – Rather than throw it away after being abandoned at a local hotel, Steve Lopez said someone gave him a large, blue plastic container because it seemed the contents inside were important to someone.
Lopez said, “When I opened it, it’s like, ‘how can this be?’”
Along with two American flags, one boxed, the other framed, and several copies of legal paperwork, Lopez said what he found most intriguing was a thick photo album “which was very detailed.”
Inside were photos dating back to the 1950′s, with carefully handwritten captions depicting a young soldier’s service in Korea and Japan, and others of his family back home.
Copies of his birth certificate and last will and testament in the same box showed the soldier was Robert Dominguez Sr.
Another document listed his sons and where they lived, but only one, his namesake -- Robert Dominguez Jr. -- still lived at the same address.
Reached on his cellphone by his stepdaughter about what had been found, Dominguez Jr. was stunned.
“I have no words,” he said, but also asked, “Why is Channel 12 there?”
After letting the news sink in that a stranger named Steve Lopez was trying to track down Dominguez Sr. or his family, Dominguez said he’d be there as soon as he could to see the remarkable discovery for himself.
On his way to Lopez’s house, driving what had been his father’s van, Dominguez later said he wondered, “What are you trying to tell me, Dad?”
After he arrived and thanked Lopez for trying to find the rightful owner, Dominguez said, “Believe it or not, I was looking for these. They were lost, but never forgotten.”
Dominguez said the timing is especially poignant with the holidays still ahead with both his parents now gone.
His father passed away at the age of 87, having served in both the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force.
“He bled red, white and blue. That was dad,” Dominguez said. “It’s hard to imagine what he’d be saying right now.”
Lopez told him, “It’s an honor to know that your dad served.”