GREEN BAY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Brown County

UPDATE: Prayer book returns to De Pere Army Veteran, travels from New York to Tennessee

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FRIDAY 11/5/2021 9:29 a.m.

DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV) – A nearly 80-year-old prayer book made its way back to its rightful owner after making close to a 1,000-mile journey from New York to Tennessee.

97-year-old Carl Moensoeens was able to get back his prayer book from when he enlisted in the army back in 1942.

A woman in New York posted on the De Pere community Facebook page that she had Moensoeens’ prayer book from when he enlisted in the army back in 1942.

Moenssons is something of a local legend in De Pere. He was in the starting lineup of the De Pere High School Redbirds basketball team when they chased an undefeated season back in the day. He now lives in Tennessee.

ORIGINAL: De Pere Army Veteran’s prayer book suddenly appears decades later and several states away

TUESDAY 10/26/2021 7:04 p.m.

DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV) – Mary Stein couldn’t believe it when the alert popped up from Facebook.

“I saw my uncle’s name,” Stein tells Local 5 News. ” Right away. I thought because she was looking for someone named Carl F. Moenssens, and I said wait a minute and I clicked it right away.”

A woman in New York posted on the De Pere community Facebook page that she had Stein’s great uncle’s prayer book from when he enlisted in the army back in 1942. Carl Moenssens (the s is silent) now 97 and living in Tennesee couldn’t believe it either.

“He was as flabbergasted as I was,” recalled Stein. “How did it get from Scott Field in Illinois where he enlisted to New York?”

On a chilly fall afternoon, Mary and Local 5’s Michele McCormack called up the woman to find out a little bit more.

Margaret Dinkins is a former Army Corps nurse. Her husband Willie was an Army Ranger who put in two tours in Vietnam. He always loved collecting Army memorabilia.

“He was always interested in military stuff,” explained Dinkins. “He was in the US Army himself. Especially if it had a name on it. He was feeling responsible for it.”

Dinkins admits the discovery was probably made during a visit to a flea market. She thinks Willie might have found the book as far back as a decade ago. She said they had tried finding the owner before but failed.

She only found the book again along with another book without a name while looking through Willie’s things after his sudden death in a car crash.

“I was looking for something and I came across this little wooden box that he kept things he felt were important,” Dinkins recalled. “I said there’s some reason I’m seeing this. I should really try again.”

Within minutes of posting the story about the book, she was in touch with Mary who put her in touch with Carl.

Dinkins was happy to finish what her late husband started.

“I find it to be completing my husband’s mission. I know it was important to Willie. Things always happen for a specific reason. Why did I find it and why was I able to find that De Pere community page when I couldn’t before? I do see the mission. I feel really happy about it.”

Observers on Facebook also watched closely and delighted in seeing the updates that the prayer book that had gone missing for decades was now in the mail and headed back to its owner.

Moenssons is something of a local legend in De Pere. He was in the starting lineup of the De Pere High School Redbirds basketball team when they chased an undefeated season back in the day.

He also received Congressional recognition for his voter registration efforts in the 1960s.

Now he’s at the center of a story that demonstrates why “Army Strong” isn’t just a slogan.

The exact journey of the prayer book remains a mystery.

Nobody’s quite sure how Carl lost it.

Nobody’s quite sure how Willie found it and thought to set it aside for safekeeping.

One thing is for certain, a story like this gives those who have heard it a reason to hope.

“When stuff like this happens,” concluded Stein, “you know there’s still good stuff going on. People are still reaching out to do things. To do good things.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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