USPS delivers a letter from an American soldier to his family—76 years after it was mailed

A Massachusetts woman took a sweet trip down memory lane when she received a letter written by her late husband to his mother—76 years ago. Angelina “Jean” Gonsalves, 89, received the airmail envelope from the United States Postal Service (USPS), who dropped it off at her Woburn address on December 9.

John Gonsalves wrote this letter while he was serving in Germany following World War II. It was addressed to Angelina Gonsalves’ mother. She had died a long time before. The 6-cent stamp on the letter was forwarded from a Pittsburgh mail facility.

Jean said that John, who was 92 years old, died in 2015 and Jean said it was surreal to see his handwriting again.

The letter delivered by USPS
Photo by Brian Gonsalves

“Seventy-six years! It was amazing to see the date. For a letter from Johnny to suddenly show up out of nowhere was amazing,” she said.

The USPS delivered the letter on two pieces long white paper. It was dated December 6, 1945. John was 22 years old when he wrote it from Bad Orb in Germany.

“Dear Mom — Received another letter from you today and was happy to hear that everything is okay. As for myself, I’m fine and getting along okay. But as far as the food, it’s pretty lousy most of the time,” it began.

The first page of John Gonsalves's letter delivered by USPS to his mother in 1945
Photo by Brian Gonsalves

John wrote about the gloomy weather in Germany and how he predicted he’d be able to return home to the US in late January or early February. He signed off with “Love and XXXXX — Your Son, Johnny,” and included a PS: “I’ll be seeing you — soon, — I hope.”

Jean, who was married to John for 61 years, said the letter “sounded just like Johnny.” She said her husband enlisted in the Army in 1943 and served overseas for around three years.

“I smiled when I saw his beautiful handwriting,” she said. “I always loved how he wrote his E’s.”

The second page of John Gonsalves's letter to his mother in 1945, delivered by USPS
Photo by Brian Gonsalves| Photo by Brian Gonsalves

Jean’s regular mail carrier was excited when he rang her doorbell last month to deliver the letter from the past.

“The mailman asked if my husband had been in the service, and I told him yes, but I didn’t know him then,” she said. “He said he thought the letter was something personal for me and he was really happy to give me the letter as priority mail.”

The registered envelope contained a note from Stephen D. Stowell who was an employee at the USPS Pittsburgh processing and distribution center.

He stated that they were unsure where the letter had been over the past seven-plus centuries, but that it had arrived at their facility six months earlier. Some postal workers tracked down John’s next of kin and found her address.

“Due to the age and significance to your family history delivering this letter was of utmost importance to us,” said Stowell.

An old photograph

Jean said that Stowell called her to thank her for the unopened mail.

“They’re just not sure what happened, and I guess it really doesn’t matter,” she said. “I’m just so happy to have it. I would have been 13 when John wrote it.”

Jean met her husband in 1949—around five years after he wrote the letter. They were coworkers at the Marilyn Sandal Co., Stoneham, Massachusetts.

She was 17 at the time, and had just graduated from highschool. John was nine-years older than her. John stopped by her while she was waiting to catch the bus with a girl after work. He asked them if they wanted a ride home.

Angelina Gonsalves reading her late husband's letter to his mother delivered by USPS

They were on their first date a month later. They then got married a few years later, on October 25, 1953. John earned his engineering degree and worked for GTE Corporation. Together, they had five children.

“I can picture my dad writing that letter to his mom, hoping he would soon be coming home to see her,” said Brian Gonsalves, one of Jean and John’s sons. “Although it never made it to his mom, it made it to mine. And we’ve all been on an amazing little journey because of it.”

Jean described John as a “quiet man” who was in his element when he was with his family. He loved to take their boys camping, hiking, and was the handyman at home.

“It’s wonderful to now have this little piece of history from his life,” said Jean. “Honestly and truly, it’s such a nice surprise to see a glimpse into his past.”

Click the video below for more information about this special letter sent by USPS

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