Watch CBS News

Family Reunited With WWII Medal, Photos Left Inside Donated Furniture

PATCHOGUE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Until recently, they had never met. But thanks to Facebook, two Long Island families have a story of a lifetime -- and family treasures to prove it.

As CBS2's Dick Brennan reported, Dina Underwood and her aunt were on the hunt for the perfect dresser to refurbish, coming across one at the Patchogue Salvation Army last week.

"It caught my aunt's eye," Underwood said. "She brought me over to it and said: 'Hey, what do you think about this dresser? It might be a fun project to work on.'"

Little did they know inside the top drawer -- and beside some trash -- were priceless heirlooms.

World War II medal returned
Frank Gomula holds up his grandfather's World War II medal. (credit: CBS2)

"As we looked a little closer, we saw that there was some interest stuff in there," Underwood said.

The Long Island mother found a World War II medal and old pictures. She said immediately they knew they had to find the owner, so she turned to Facebook, posting a picture of the medal and one photo and asking for some help to find whoever they belonged to.

"My friends shared, and then they shared, and got shared some more," Underwood said.

Those shares made their way to Frank Gomula, of Levittown, the grandson of the man in the picture.

"So, of course, I stopped. I read it. I couldn't believe it," he said. "I was stunned."

Gomula then posted: "Holy Moly! That's my Grand Father!"

He and Underwood then connected, and he got his hands on the family heirloom and photos he never knew existed.

"The positive power of social media," Gomula said. "It was really a good thing. And if it wasn't for that, it would have been lost forever."

It turns out the dresser belonged to his aunt, who donated it not knowing the items were inside. Gomula said forget the dresser; "I have plenty of furniture of my own."

But he will never lose sight of the returned family treasures.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.