Wake County bus driver trying to reunite dead veteran's flag with surviving family

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Can you solve the mystery of this flag?

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A Wake County student's yard sale bargain now has his grandfather searching for the family of a deceased veteran.

Wake School's bus driver Durwood Smith noticed there was something tucked inside the American flag his grandson bought.

The Old Glory found in a Durham garage sale, and still zipped up in a bag from the funeral home, had something inside 17-year-old William Allen didn't notice.

"Well it was just in a bunch of boxes piled up on each other, and I saw the flag, and I wanted to fly it in the back of my truck," Allen said, "so I thought it be pretty cool to have."

"If he wants a flag to fly in the pickup truck I'll get him a flag," his grandfather, Smith, said. "but not a deceased person's veteran's flag."

When Smith noticed the words on the back, he started investigating.

"I was trying to find out who it may belong to, and then, in the process, the man's wallet is inside of it with all his cards and everything," Smith said.

The ID's point to a man named James Norris, a former P.O.W. according to his V.A. card.


Smith has been studying the veteran's wallet for two weeks, looking for clues from driver's licenses to military IDs and pictures of unknown loved ones.

"My assumption was that this is his flag and his family members might want it," Smith said.

So ABC11 went to Ellis D Jones & Sons Funeral Directors, the place printed on the back of the bag the flag is in, looking for answers.

"The fact that we did not bury Mr. Norris, would lead me to believe that we did not, that the flag is not his," Nina Mason, funeral director at Ellis D Jones & Sons, said.

We called the Durham V.A. and Holloway Funeral Home (the funeral home listed on Norris's death certificate), and got no answers on living relatives. We even checked his last known address for clues tips from neighbors and got nowhere.

The Durham V.A. lists a person named "Angela Lawrence," as an emergency contact, but the phone number they had for her didn't work, and she no longer lived at the listed address.

His death certificate lists someone named April Lawrence of Guiderland, NY as the informant's name. ABC11 could not find a working phone number for April.

Now Smith, wants everyone to take a good hard look at Norris's picture, hoping someone might know who his living relatives are.

"If he took his time to serve in the military, and he is deceased and went on to other places, the family needs to welcome his flag and keep him in memory," Smith said.

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