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Local woman seeks to return WWII heirloom

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BATON ROUGE - On this Veterans Day a woman in our area is searching for the family of a serviceman in the Royal Air Force.

She has a memento that has been in her family for years that bears the name "S. Schaus". It's a unique bracelet from the Royal Air Force that dates back to the World War II era and before. The bracelet has been in Nancy Noel's family for decades, and tonight she says time is running out for her to find the rightful owner.

"I don't know how my mother got this bracelet," Noel said.

Nancy Noel is on a mission late in her life and is now trying to connect the dots of how this Royal Air force bracelet with the mysterious engraved name made its way into her family. She remembers it happening after a plane went down.

"There was a plane crash in Metairie," Noel said. "I was in the 4th grade. I'm 81, so you can count back and see how long ago that was."

Noel remembers her mother getting the bracelet after that crash. It was during World War II.

"I remember rationing," she recalled. "The red tokens for meat. Sugar was rationed, and you didn't have butter. That's when we first learned about margarine. I hate margarine, and I don't eat it to this day."

Her mother died decades ago, and that's when Noel received the bracelet. As Noel raised her family, she never forgot about the bracelet. Recently, when she was cleaning out a bureau, she came across it and said she had to do something.

"We brought it down to the World War II Museum in New Orleans. We met with Larry Decuers, one of the curators at the museum. He shed some insight on the RAF," said Noel.

"The Royal Air Force, they went to war in 1940 long before we did," Decuers said. "We had American volunteers going to Canada, and then going to England so they could fly with England so they could fight against the Germans."

According to Decuers, a Spitfire fighter plane is among a handful of items from the Royal Air Force at the museum in New Orleans. Decuers believes the bracelet is authentic.

"When you are in an organization where everyone is made to look the same, this kind of sets you apart," Decuers said. "It's kind of flashy, that sort of thing."

Exactly who "S. Schaus" was remains shrouded in a mystery. Experts at the National World War II Museum say there's good reason why his bracelet may have ended up in Louisiana.

"This possibly could be an American's bracelet who had gone over there and fought with the English," Decuers said. "Or we also trained a lot of their pilots in the states."

When we searched the records of the Royal Air Force, the only connection we found was the name Samuel Schaus, but there was no connection to New Orleans. His death predates when Noel remembers her family getting the bracelet.

After all the research, the question still lingers as to who "S. Schaus" was. Noel hopes someone watching tonight may know how to contact his family so she can finally return a bracelet to the rightful owner after a lifetime of wondering.

"If someone had something that belonged to me with someone's name on it and I knew definitely it was theirs...and it belonged to my family," Noel said. "I would like them to return it to me."

Noel hopes this story helps find the owner. If it doesn't, she's planning on donating the bracelet to the National World War II Museum. Their curators say they will be happy to accept it and place it on display for visitors to see.



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