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Yukon man reunited with jacket worn in World War II

John Radcliff, 94, wears a Marine jacket that was issued to him in 1945 while he was serving in the Navy. The jacket was lost during a typhoon in Okinawa. It was returned to Radcliff on Wednesday by Scott McNamara of Oneida, Tennessee. His mother purchased it at an Army-Navy store more than three decades ago.

Pictured is John Radcliff from his time in the Navy. Photo / Provided

John Radcliff wasn’t exactly sure the jacket that arrived in the Priority Mail package was truly his, but it had his name written in it.
It’s an old Marine jacket that the sender believed belonged to Radcliff when he was serving in the U.S. Navy during 1945.
Radcliff wasn’t so sure, until he saw his name written in red ink.
It included the date the jacket was issued and his battalion number.
“This is a Marine jacket that was issued to me at Okinawa. After 75 years, it’s back in my possession,” Radcliff said.
The jacket arrived Wednesday in a package from Scott McNamara. The package also included a photo of McNamara and his family, as well as a note.
Radcliff was surprised by the package, but said McNamara’s efforts to return it to him are greatly appreciated.
McNamara, who lives in Oneida, Tennessee, was given the jacket about a week ago by his mother, who had purchased it more than three decades ago at an Army-Navy store in Maine.
“I always loved that jacket,” McNamara said.
“I tried it on and fell in love with it. It is remarkable condition,” he said. “I was just going to put it up, but all day I wore it.”
The jacket was issued new in 1945 to J.L. Radcliff Jr.
McNamara said when his mother handed him the old jacket, he noticed the name and military information, and wanted to know more about its former owner.
The research led him to John Radcliff Jr., who was born in Yukon, grew up in Bethany and now is a resident of the Spanish Cove Retirement Village.
McNamara said there was a photo of Radcliff on Navy history website.
“I saw Mr. Radcliff’s name and thought, ‘This is a real person.’ I wanted to see if I could find this guy, but I thought the chances were slim,” he said.
An internet search provided some information that led the two to connect by phone.
“I found John Radcliff in Yukon, called his phone number and he answered. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting the number to work,” he said. “I wasn’t really prepared for the conversation.”
That conversation led to some great stories about Radcliff’s time with the SeaBees, where he served as a heavy equipment operator.
During his just over two years in the military, Radcliff was stationed in Guam, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
“These World War II guys are amazing. They are superheroes,” McNamara said.
McNamara said he knew he had to return the heavy cotton jacket to Radcliff. He thought about driving it 12 hours to Yukon, but with the current COVID-19 pandemic decided to mail it instead.
Radcliff, who is 94, said the jacket disappeared during a typhoon while he was in Okinawa. To have it back is special.
Radcliff modeled it briefly Wednesday for a photo.
It still fits, he said.
Radcliff’s daughter, he said, wants to have the jacket cleaned. However, Radcliff said he is concerned it might not survive.
The former serviceman, who spent time in both the Navy and the Air Force, said his job was to use a bulldozer to create trenches for explosives.
“We did a lot of dynamite,” he said.

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