WWII veteran’s canteen found in St. Louis, makes its way back to Oklahoma

Mid-South

CANUTE, Okla. (NewsNation Now) — A Missouri man found a long-lost piece of an Oklahoma family history on the banks of the Mississippi River.

Ray Schones picked up the phone, unaware of the story unfolding on the other end. 

“He called me on my phone one day. He says, ‘I got a story for you,’” said Schones. 

St. Louis resident Andy Hinton was doing something he normally does, looking for different arrowheads and trinkets as he walked along the banks of the Mississippi River. 

“Towards the end of the day, we didn’t really come up with much and that’s when I came across the canteen laying in the sand,” said Hinton.

Hinton cleaned the canteen and saw the words “Pearl Harbor” etched on it.

“I instantly knew when I had it in my hands,” said Hinton. “Once I saw someone’s first and last name on it, I said I got to find the family of who this belongs to.”

The canteen acted as a wartime journal of sorts for author Raphael Schones, who carved his name on the bottom.

“I don’t know why I was chosen to find it but I feel like I was put there for a reason,” said Hinton. 

Hinton tracked down the Schones family on Facebook. He found them 600 miles away in Canute, Oklahoma. 

“We knew nothing about it, never heard a story about it,” said Ray Schones. “When he got done talking to me, I had to raise my shirt up and wipe the tears off of my eyes.”

Rachael Dunlap drove 18-hours round trip to bring her grandfather’s canteen back home. 

“You know they say you get visits from heaven, this is one of those. Grandpa is reaching out to us again,” said Dunlap. 

“Andy found the needle in the haystack, didn’t he?” said Ray Schones. 

Raphael Schones was drafted in his 20’s. 

“When he first got into the Army, he was an expert marksmen, and then he ended up being a truck driver with his prisoners because he came from the farm and he knew how to run equipment,” said Raphael Schones’s middle child, Doug Schones. 

He served four years traveling the world, documenting his stops, engraving the journey in aluminum. 

“You know, he’s thinking about home writing all that on there, putting his love life, hearts,” said Ray Schones. 

If you look closely between the geography, you’ll find the first chapter of the Schones’ love story: his future wife, Ragine. 

“He knew my mom when he left and I don’t know how close they were before he left, but they must’ve been pretty close to each other you know,” said Ray Schones. 

The pair married after his honorable discharge. They raised 5 kids: Dianne, George, Doug, Lanell, and Ray. The Schones don’t know how it ended up in the banks of the Mississippi.

NewsNation affiliate KFOR contributed to this report.

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