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Service & Sacrifice: "Charlie’s Box" holds long-lost memories of a fallen soldier from Knoxville

A cardboard box holding long-hidden photos, letters and medals of a Knoxville soldier killed in Vietnam was re-discovered 50 years later.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A man who stumbled across an old cardboard box opened it recently, thinking it was full of Christmas ornaments. Instead, he found memories of a Knoxville soldier killed in Vietnam.

“It was pristine though, everything in the box looked like it had come out of a time capsule,” said Tim Rogers, who found photos, medals, and letters belonging to a Knoxville soldier named Charles O. Reed

Reed was killed only weeks after his 20th birthday on a battlefield in Vietnam in 1967.

Credit: John Becker
Charles O. Reed killed in Vietnam weeks after setting foot in that war zone in 1967.

“[It’s] a war hero’s box,” Rogers said after he read the after-action report detailing the battlefield heroics of Charles Reed on the day that he died. 

He was a young man who endured being wounded by enemy gunfire and then went back to rescue a fellow soldier. Rogers said he wanted to try and find out who the family was as soon as he opened the box.

As it turns out, his father’s late wife had married a woman who first wed that fallen soldier. In 1967, their marriage lasted 2 months before Charles Reed died in combat.  

“I was shaking like a leaf by the time I got off the phone,” said Hilda Reed after she took a call from Tim Rogers and learned that stranger had a treasure trove of memories of her older brother. “There are photos in there that I’ve never seen before with me as a child, with my sister, and with my brother.”

Credit: John Becker
Clyde Reed lost his brother in 1967 in Vietnam. He just received a long-hidden box of memories of his brother more than five decades after Charlie's death.

“It’s just amazing, like a miracle,” said Clyde Reed after he saw the collection of never-before-seen mementos of his brother.

The two slept in bunkbeds before Charlie went off to war. Tears in his eyes, Clyde said he couldn’t have asked for a better gift than ‘Charlie’s box,”

“[Tim] is like family now, he’s one of my new best friends,” he said.   

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