Jesus Morales has worked for the Connecticut Department of Transportation for more than a decade, supervising the inmates who clean up our highways. He says he's found countless objects on the side of the highway over the years, including cell phones and money – but nothing truly valuable until today.
Morales was on his typical cleanup duty along Interstate 91 northbound in Cromwell when it happened.
"We spotted this red box so one of my guys got out of the truck and picked it up like always picked it up and threw it in the trailer that I carry for the garbage," recounted the 14-year DOT veteran.
He noticed there was something heavy inside the box: an album filled with photos, news clippings and awards. It records the military history of Marines James E. Mills and Clarence "Jack" Richards.
University of Hartford History Professor Avi Patt said clearly this documents a family's legacy of service.
"What's most impressive is that somebody went to the time of taking these commendations, taking these awards and medals and putting them into the album," said Patt.
In a matter of minutes, Patt connected the dots and said Mills and Richards were likely father-in-law and son-in-law, bound by something very personal.
"It's not just something you find in an archive, but for the family this is evidence of the service they've had, and it means a lot to the family," he said.
It means a lot to Morales to get it back in that family's hands.
"It's someone's treasure, not mine, but it's somebody's treasure and hopefully someone comes forward," Morales said.
He's hoping someone will see this story or one of his posts on Facebook and he'll find the rightful owner. He doesn't expect anything in return, but says he would like to shake that person's hand.