Legacy Links: Discovery along California coast leads to quest for owner

About four years ago, my dad, my brother and I took a trip to an island off the coast of California. This island was called Catalina. We’d been there at least two times before and spent most of our time exploring the cute little shops, snorkeling, swimming and just enjoying a short little vacation.

We were on our way there by way of boat, and we were all very excited to be going to Catalina again.

We spent our first day walking around the island, buying little useless knick knacks and planning what we were going to do the next few days. Of course, we all wanted to go snorkeling at least a few times before we left.

The next day, very early in the morning, my dad and I went out to buy frozen peas so that we could feed the fish as we went snorkeling. We walked back to the hotel, woke up my brother and began to walk down to the little cove where we usually went snorkeling.

We set our stuff on top of the rocky shore and began to get our wetsuits, flippers and  snorkeling mask, on.

Then into the water we went. We spent a few hours just swimming around, checking out all the cool fish, feeding the fish frozen peas and just having fun.

After awhile I started to get cold, so I got out. I took of my snorkeling mask and flippers and sat on the rocky shore once again.

I began to get bored of waiting for my brother and dad to get done snorkeling, so I went to explore the rocks a bit. As I went closer toward the road, I suddenly caught sight of something shiny. In between two big rocks, I pulled out a dog tag necklace. It had writing on it I noticed.

It read:

Forever in our hearts.

Willie L. Grissom III


Soon enough my brother and dad got out of the water. I was excited to show them what I had found. They too thought it was a cool find and thought it would be a good idea to find out who exactly who the guy was on the necklace.

The next few days on the island seemed to fly by; all I could think about was who could this person be?

When we got back to California, I immediately got onto a computer and looked up the name on the dog tag. There were no results that would tell me who this person was. I spent the next two years trying to look him up but failed.

I was beginning to lose hope of ever finding out who the person on the necklace was, but during the third year I finally got a result.

I now know that Willie was 20 years old when he died, and he died when I was three. I still do not know how he died or if he has any family that could tell me how, but I am trying to find them now.

I feel attached to this necklace in some way and even to Willie as well. I really would like to find out more about him, and I have plans to visit his grave this summer. I don’t know exactly why, but I want to know how or why he died.

Perhaps I will finally get my answer when I find one of his family members … if he even has any family members that are alive or that even remember him, but even if I find them and even if they can’t tell me anything about him, I will still feel attached to the necklace and to him.

It may seem weird that I feel connected to a total stranger, but there is just something about knowing that there could be an interesting story behind him that makes me feel like an investigator.

My mission: To find out what happened to Willie, return the necklace to his parents and put my mind to rest.

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