WWII Vet Travels Cross-Country To Return Photo Stolen 70 Years Ago
Story by 13 On Your Side Newsroom
(Huffington Post) - Jim Williams was a 22-year-old Coast Guard gunner's mate in WWII when he stole a photo of Ruby Ruff from her home.
The photo was the only thing he's ever stolen and he's felt badly about it ever since. So at 92, Williams tracked down the girl from the picture and returned it to her after 70 years.
In 1943, Williams was stationed on the Oregon coast, and he met Ruby Ruff during one of his trips to Portland.
The two became friends after a night of dancing.
Their relationship was strictly platonic, but families would often open their homes to servicemen during the war, so Ruff invited Williams over to her house after the dance.
When Williams saw Ruff's photo framed on an end table, he slipped it out and stuffed the frame between the cushions.
"One of the reasons why I took it was people had pictures of girls on their bunks at Depoe Bay, but I didn't have any," he told KOMO4. "So I thought this was a good chance to get one."
It was a decision he'd regret for decades.
Ruby Ruff is now Ruby Hazen, and has been married for 67 years to an airman.
The couple's address? Memory Lane in Silver Lake, Wash.
When Williams was preparing for what might be his last road trip to visit his daughter in Los Angeles, he knew it was time to return the photo.
He stopped by the Oregonian's offices and the newspaper published the 1943 photo on its front page with the headline "In Search Of Ruby Ruff."
One of Hazen's relatives saw the article and a week later Williams was able to mail the photo back to her, including a hand-written letter in which he apologized for stealing, and recounted all the places her photo had been.
"The photo had survived battles in the South and North Pacific, submarine attacks, survived 30 consecutive nights of bombing, two wives and a typhoon in the China Sea," Williams wrote.
Even though they weren't able to reunite in person, KOMO4 arranged a Skype call between Williams and Hazen, so he could apologize for stealing the photo.
"I think it's nice that he carried my picture with him for moral support throughout the war," Hazen told the Oregonian.
"He must be a nice guy to come all that way to return my picture. I think it's pretty awesome."
Email Alert Sign Up
Sign up here to receive breaking news stories from KSWT.com and morning updates to your email inbox.
Daisy Cortes was in court earlier this week through her attorney asked for her bond to be reduced. According to published reports her attorney reported to the court that Ms. Cortes was unaware of her fathersMore >>
Daughter of suspected gunman has day in courtMore >>
Jesus Hernandez-Carlon stood before a judge to be formally charged; Carlon was arrested Monday night after a witness identified him as the man who robbed him at gun point outside a Yuma restaurant. AccordingMore >>
Man suspected of robbing someone at gun-point outside a Yuma restaurant was in court. More >>
The most haunted island on earth is a small island right off the coast of Venice, Italy called ‘The Island Of Poveglia. It's beautiful and deserted but it was also a body dumping ground a few hundred yearsMore >>
Spacious Island for sale; includes hotel. May need exorcism. More >>
Web Producer: Lucy Valencia, Assignment Desk Editor WASHINGTON (AP) -- Declaring "we are not a deadbeat nation," President Obama warned on Monday that Social Security checks and veterans' benefits willMore >>
Declaring "we are not a deadbeat nation," President Obama warned on Monday that Social Security checks and veterans' benefits will be delayed if congressional Republicans fail to increase the government's borrowing authority in a looming showdown over the nation's debt and spending.More >>
YUMA, Ariz. (13 On Your Side) - Yuma police say a dead woman was found in a car parked at Food City on 8th Street on Tuesday night, at around 6:20 p.m. Police are investigating her cause of death andMore >>
Yuma police are investigating the death of a woman who was found in a parked car Tuesday night.More >>
Judge Jorge Lozano has just announced that he plans on running for Superior Court Judge; the 38 year old Justice of the Peace has been serving Somerton and San Luis for the past eight years and believesMore >>
South County Judge seeking a higher callingMore >>