FITCHBURG, Mass. - A Fitchburg man completed his search to find the rightful owner of a family photo album he found along Interstate 93 in Woburn.
The album is filled with dozens of photographs from World War II along with precious family memories.
Mark Sanderelli says he had been holding on to the album for a month, trying to preserve the decades-old photos.
"When I saw them, I knew this was precious. This was a time capsule right here," he said.
When the story about finding the album ran on Boston 25 News, a family-friend of the album owner recognized the book immediately and called her friend. That friend is the great-granddaughter of the man in the photos.
MYSTERY SOLVED! After watching our report on @boston25 family members recognized the photos and identified their great-grandfather as the album owner. The family tells me they had donated the furniture the album was in and didn't realize it was inside— Julie Leonardi (@JulieLeonardiTV) July 12, 2019
Sanderelli was on the job when he spotted a cabinet taped shut along the highway. He says when he went to move the drawers, that's when he found a scrapbook filled with mementos from the 1940s.
"You hope to never lose that stuff, those memories," Sanderelli said of dozens of photographs taken from around the world.
Sanderelli tried to piece together a story of a man's life during the Greatest Generation.
"I knew this was significant, this was somebody’s, these are personal pictures," he said.
The lost album fell into the right lap.
Sanderelli is a history buff witih military ties.
He says he recognized photos taken during World War II, snapshots from a life far from home.
The pictures are marked "Japan," "Alaska," and others documenting family members stateside.
Dozens of photos documenting Nelson DesRoche’s time served in the Navy during WW2 has been returned. We now know his history and his family. He’s in the center of the group photo with his shipmates. AT 5- the special moment the pics were returned @boston25 pic.twitter.com/gGHYCnIv33— Julie Leonardi (@JulieLeonardiTV) July 12, 2019
"This gentleman, this great American has taken the time to document that part of his life where he was far away from home, he was serving his country, he had shipmates, friends," he said.
He even found newspaper clippings from a Haverhill newspaper dated May 1945. And a military service certificate from 1944 for a Nelson Desroche.
Sanderelli hoped he could return those memories to the rightful owner. And Friday, he did.
He met with George Desroche on Friday. Desroche says the album is filled with photographs from his father Nelson's life in the service.
"I can't even believe it, after all this time you found it on the side of the road," said George. "My dad was a little emotional. He felt bad he lost it."
Both Nelson and his wife passed away in 2001. George says he's grateful to have the priceless images back and that the album fell into the right hands.
"It's so amazing not just finding this, but you looked for us. You didn't have to do that," George said.
© 2019 Cox Media Group.