World War II soldier’s lost recording finally finds its destination in Maine

recordfind04Decades ago, the owner of an electronics store in Windham discovered a voice recording from a soldier in World War II in his record archives.

The recording, sent by an 18 year old soldier named William Austin while he was stationed in Orange, Texas towards the end of the war in 1945, never made it to its intended destination of Austin’s home in Auburn.

Mike Esposito, the owner of the Radio Shack that the recording somehow ended up at, had tried in the past to locate Austin or his family. He even went so far as to cold-call people in the Auburn phone book with the last name of Austin, but to no avail.

Mike Esposito shows the WWII recording from 1945.

Mike Esposito shows the WWII recording from 1945.

This past Saturday though, Esposito got the idea to share the story of the recording on Facebook and ask people for help. Wouldn’t you know it, through the power of social media the recording was able to do in three days what it had been unable to do for the previous seventy years- find its home.

William Austin lived a full life and passed away in the 1980’s, but his wife, daughter, and grandson were able to hear his voice when they met Esposito at his store on Monday night.

The family of late WWII veteran William Austin with Mike Esposito, who found the lost recording.

The family of late WWII veteran William Austin with Mike Esposito, who found the lost recording.

Austin’s wife, Dot, said “it’s a shock. It doesn’t sound like him because he was so young,” upon listening to the scratchy records.

Dorna Davis, Austin’s daughter, said it was a chance for her son to hear his grandfather’s voice for the first time,

“It’s really nice in one way because my son never met my dad so this is really something for him to have.”

Said Austin’s grandson, Keith Davis, “I didn’t know this kind of thing (the old recordings) existed and my grandfather died the year before I was born. I’ve never heard his voice before. I’ve only seen pictures.”

Addressed to 371 Court Street in Auburn, ME. Sent from Orange, TX by William Austin.

Addressed to 371 Court Street in Auburn, ME. Sent from Orange, TX by William Austin.

In the recordings, which are only partially understandable, Austin can be heard talking about “making a few buddies” while stationed in Texas, he tells his mother to “keep your chin up“, and says that when he gets back home to Auburn “the first thing I’m gonna’ do is take Dad and go fishin’.”

Here are a couple excerpts from the recordings:

 

Chris Shorr

About Chris Shorr

Chris is a sixth generation Portlander who loves all things Maine. He has worked with mentally ill and marginalized adults at a Portland non-profit, on a lobster boat in Casco Bay, at several high-end Portland restaurants, and at a local meat packing plant. He also ran for Portland City Council in 2013, wrote a weekly column in the now defunct Portland Daily Sun, and currently writes a weekly column in The Portland Phoenix.