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Retired Navy engineman finally gets yearbook of his crew after 53-year wait

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A retired Navy engineman in 1967 bought a yearbook of his crew, but he never got it in the mail.

Lee Erikson had long forgotten about the yearbook until someone in his alumni Facebook page posted they had a box of unclaimed books. More than half a century later, Erikson finally got it.

“So 53 years after I paid for it, I finally got it," he said.

Erikson, who served the country as a second-class engineman E5 diesel mechanic, was active duty from 1963 to 1967. He wanted a way to remember his mates and memories, so he bought a cruise book.

“Almost immediately when we arrived back home, I was discharged from active duty and basically went home and never got my book,” Erikson said.

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago, he saw a post on Facebook that caught his attention.

“Somebody posted on the alumni page that he had a whole box of old cruise books that nobody had ever claimed and did anybody want them? I immediately responded, “Sure, send me one from ’66-’67 crew,'” Erikson recounted. “And he did. He sent it.”

The book has survived decades and a couple of floods, so Erikson can’t quite pick out which photos are of him, but he certainly remembers the stories. Now, memories that could have been lost forever leap out of the pages, reminding Erikson, now young at heart, when he was also young of age.

“It was very heartwarming to see their faces again and to see us as we all were then, we were young men then,” Erikson said. “And that’s the funny part of it is that’s the way I remember all these people.”

Erikson said he’s looking forward to an alumni reunion planned for the fall and hopes that they can all still connect safely despite COVID-19.


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