Problem Solvers deliver special surprise on Veterans Day

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—A West Michigan woman is anxious to return tangible memories of someone’s service to our country, but the only problem: finding who they belong to.

“I felt like whoever it belonged to, they would want it,” said Raye McNeil.

Raye McNeil said she has been on the mission to find who the items belong to for the last 9 years. She called the Fox 17 Problem Solvers to help her, and as of Wednesday, Veterans Day, she accomplished her goal.

It’s rare for the Problem Solvers to reach a solution as quickly as this, but on Veterans Day everything seemed to fall into place at the right time. Wednesday night, an Air Force Major who served for 20 years is getting back what she had been missing for years.

“I couldn’t just throw them away. No, I didn’t think it would be right,” said McNeil.

McNeil has been taking care of these framed photographs for a Major Phyllis Y. Kendall for 9 years, ever since a moving company mix-up during her move from Arizona to Grand Rapids.

“I couldn’t get them [the moving company] to tell me where to send them to and I wasn’t going to give them back to them, because I didn’t know what they would do with them.”

The problem is that McNeil didn’t know Major Kendall, and she had no idea how to find her.

“I looked at them and I knew they were important to somebody. I figured one day somebody would figure out a way for me to find this person,” said McNeil.

One framed picture was complete with medals, and the other a picture of an SR-71 Blackbird with messages from her colleagues saying things like  “Lt. Kendall thank you for all the knowledge that you taught me” and “we’ll miss you enjoy life wherever you may go”.

Finding out where Major Kendall is located now, would be the hard part. Fox 17’s Cassandra Arsenault did a search for a Phyllis Kendall, and found one living in Indiana, so she called a couple numbers that were linked to that address.

Major Kendall returned Fox 17’s call, and confirmed that the framed pictures were, in fact, hers. It was Major Kendall’s first assignment in Beale, California where she received the framed gifts. After that, she went on to serve two tours, one in Germany and one in Turkey. She has since retired after 20 years of serving her country.

The women will now be coordinating to get those photos to Major Kendall. The moving company refused to admit they had made a mistake to McNeil, but now she said she knows she was right.

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