WWII Canteen's Long Journey Home To Oklahoma

Tuesday, September 22nd 2020, 6:37 pm
By: Brian Mueller

A canteen was discovered last month in St. Louis by a man walking on a sandbar by the Mississippi River.

Among the words etched into it, "Canute, Okla" and "Raphael Schones."

Enough of a lead for the man to track down the rightful owners, which are Raphael's family in Canute.

Raphael Schones had five children. His granddaughter Rachael made the 600-mile drive to St. Louis to retrieve it.

Raphael served in World War II and etched the names of his many stops on his canteen.

The family said they have no idea how the canteen ended up in St. Louis, and their dad never even told them it existed. But it's back home now, and with it, a lot of emotions.

"It reminds us of old times again, when he was here," said his son Ray Schones.

Raphael passed in 2015, his wife Ragine in 2017.

But their love endures in many ways, like the dozens of love letters Raphael wrote to Ragine while he was overseas. 

And of course, Ragine is on the canteen. She was just his girlfriend then, but already in his heart.

"He put her name on that canteen and then came home to marry her. That's a great love story," said Raphael's granddaughter Rachael Schones-Dunlap. 

A love that lives on in words written and carved.

And a family that feels a little closer to the father and grandfather they loved.

"I think grandpa has made his presence known this last couple weeks, saying, I love you all, I miss you, I'm here," Rachael said.