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Service & Sacrifice: A Soldier's Bible Lost & Found

10:19 PM, Oct 11, 2012   |    comments
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The goodwill of a citizen in Belgium helped put a Bible lost by a Knoxville soldier during World War II back in the hands of his family.

"I don't know if mother gave it to him or if his parents gave it to him. But it really doesn't matter right now who gave it to him but it is back, that's what matters," said Karen Durham clutching her father's bible inside a conference room at the Knoxville Police Department.

Extra: See the letters from Belgium (pdf) 

It marked the high point of a search that took KPD Investigator Donna Carter just a few weeks to pull together with the help of Knox County Library Archives Assistant Phillip Smith. A defense attache in Brussels, Belgium emailed the Knoxville Police department with in their own words, "...a bit of a strange request."  Investigator Carter and Mr. Smith started their hunt with a clue that included a name and a city on the inside pages of the mystery Bible, John E. Roberts and Knoxville, Tennessee.

"When you start doing the research on it you wouldn't believe how many John E. Roberts there are in Knoxville," said Investigator Carter. A veteran of more than t23 years of police work, she put her chances at tracking down anyone connected to the Bible at 20 percent. But after reviewing family trees and government archives Investigator Carter, with the help of Mr. Smith, managed to track down John E. Robert's daughter in South Carolina where, for decades now, she has served as a church pastor.

"It has been such an honor to find John E. Roberts and then when I find him I get to meet his daughter. And (she) happens to be a minister. What are the chances of that happening?," asked Investigator Carter.

"I don't think I could call it a miracle but I would say this Bible wanted to come home," said Mr. Smith.

Mrs. Durham quickly added, "I would call it a miracle."

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