WWII airman's diary turns up at thrift store

Promotion certificate to the rank of Major for Tremblay. (National Museum USAF)

APPLETON, Wis. (WLUK) -- Items that don't sell at the Goodwill outlet in Appleton typically get thrown out, recycled, or resold elsewhere. But in October, one of the store's employees, Laytaya Williams, found something she knew needed a second look.

"My first impression was I thought it was an accident thrown away, so I thought it was very important to save it," Williams said.

What she found was a binder, filled with military records, all belonging to Lt. Col. Eugene Tremblay.

Williams said the binder looked like a regular white three-ring binder. After skimming through it, she handed it to her coworker who is also a veteran.

Goodwill's leader of logistics, Dennis Zemialkowski, described the binder as, "very meticulous, everything was in pocket protectors so all the paperwork was in there, so it wasn’t loose or anything."

According to the records, Tremblay was born in Chippewa Falls in 1905 and graduated from Harvard University's Seminary School. From there, he went on to join the Air Force, and he even was awarded a Purple Heart.

"He served everywhere; he served in World War II, he served in Europe and the Pacific theaters and then when he was done with his time in the military, he continued to serve either through schools or through the church," Zemialkowski said.

The diary also contained report cards, Boy Scout paperwork and awards recognizing the work Tremblay did with his church.

"Sometimes people pass and they donate everything to them because they may not have family," Zemialkowski said.

Dedicated to find a home for the diary, Zemialkowski sent the binder to the National Museum of the US Air Force.

"He saw a lot and touched a lot of lives," Zemialkowski said.

The National Museum of the US Air Force near Dayton, Ohio does not have the binder on display yet.

It plans to use the diary for further research.

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