'Message in a bottle' found in bay apparently dates to Vietnam War era

These photos seen May 26, 2016, apparently of a soldier named Billy, were found in summer 2015 inside a baby food jar found in the bay of Green Bay off Michaelis Park in Marinette County. (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

MARINETTE COUNTY (WLUK) -- A message in a bottle is creating a mystery in the waters near Marinette, Wisconsin.

County parks workers spotted the jar bobbing in the waters of Green Bay at Michaelis County Park last summer. They didn't know where it came from, or how it got there, but when the workers popped it open, they were amazed at what was inside.

It happened while a work crew of five was removing a dock at the park just south of Marinette.

"So we took it out, and when we got done, we found a bottle just kind of floating near the shoreline," said Jack Reske, Marinette County Parks Department.

The crew thought it was garbage.

"One guy noticed there was something in it. So we opened it up, and this is what we found," said Reske.

Inside the rusty four-ounce baby food jar was a map, four pictures and a hand-written message.

"It appears to be a good-bye letter from a sister to her brother who was killed in Vietnam," said Reske.

"This is my big brother Billy. I loved him, but he never came home. He died so others may live," Reske said, reading the letter.

One photograph reveals someone identified as Billy, posing with an Army buddy. A second Polaroid shows Billy holding his weapon. Another, with a note on the back, is dated Oct. 2, 1969.

"It's only me, after I got the word. We have a 28-day patrol coming. My helmet and gear are ready," Reske read.

Ink on the map of South Vietnam marks the 4th Infantry Division, and places like Pleiku, and An Khe, an airbase near a place called "Happy Valley."

The letter continues, referring to someone known as "Mad Jack." After a half page, the tribute came to a close.

"Billy, I love you, your only sis, Laura. I'm the last now. I pray mom and dad are with you," the letter concluded.

Reske says reading the letter is difficult.

"I think everybody is different at how they deal with losses, and that was hers, and I hope it sits well with her," he said.

"The only thing I can see is that it might have brought her some closure," said Reske.

Reske says it's necessary to find more about Billy, or Laura, or anyone who knew them.

"It's important that the family gets their property back. That's the ultimate sacrifice they made" he said.

Do you know who Laura or Billy was? Email your information to ReportIt@WLUK.com and it will be forwarded to Marinette Co. parks employees.

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