US Marine's family reunited with his war bracelet found in Auckland
US Marine Harry Campbell's silver bracelet remained buried in dirt at St Marys Bay, Auckland, for more than 70 years.
The bracelet was found in 2015 by the Turner family using a metal detector and on Sunday they watched the bracelet being returned to Campbell's family at the Marine's main West Coast base, Camp Pendleton, in San Diego county.
Campbell, who served with the 1st Engineer Battalion, Division Special Troops, 1st Marine Division, died in 2013. He was in New Zealand in 1942.
Stephen Turner said the family was "blown away" by the ceremony and the importance given to the bracelet.
"All we thought was we would get it back to the people involved."
His family was honoured to have played a part in something that was clearly very meaningful for the Campbell family, he said.
The bracelet was found at Point Erin Park, buried about 150mm down, he said.
It was engraved with the name H.F. Campbell and what appeared to be a service ID number. Etched into the silver were the words "New Zealand," "Australia," and "Honolulu."
Turner believes the Marines were camped in what is now the park during World War II.
The family tried a number of avenues to find Campbell but struck gold when they visited Hawaii last year, and contacted the Hawaii Army Museum.
Working with the Marines' headquarters, the museum was able to confirm the bracelet must have belonged to Harry Francis Campbell, born in August 1922 in Missouri, who was last on active duty in California as a Master Sergeant.
The bracelet was then returned to Campbell's adult children, Jim and Patti, who live in Palm Desert, in a repatriation ceremony that was being watched live by the Turner family in Auckland via FaceTime on Saturday.
Wellington-based US Marine, LtCol John Black flew to Auckland to meet the Turner family and watched the ceremony with them. He presented the family with a certificate of appreciation and two ceremonial coins.
Jim Campbell said the find was a shock and he was sure his father would be looking down, wanting to thank the Turner family.
His father had fought at Guadacanal in the Solomons Islands and enjoyed talking about his war experiences.
The battle of Guadacanal was fought between 7 August 1942 and 9 February 1943 and was the first major offensive by Allied forces against Japanese forces.