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During his tour of duty in Iraq, he survived the dangers of fighting door-to-door in Fallujah and made it back home to the U.S. safe and sound. Tragically, shortly after his homecoming, Josh was killed in a car accident, leaving his family and friends devastated and asking the obvious question, “Why?”
A few months later, Steve Lieder and Robert Duncan, friends of Josh’s, were walking on the banks of White Lake, when they saw something glimmer on the water. After fishing it out, they realized it was a vanilla extract bottle with a piece of paper inside.
To friends and family, the message in a bottle from 10-year-old Josh appeared when they needed it most. It felt as though he was reaching out, letting them know that he was watching, and trying to help them move on. This message of hope is currently displayed in the Bakers’ home as a constant reminder that their son is still with them, even though he’s gone.
A Message in a Bottle…
A ticket to Freedom?
During a 1979 cruise to Hawaii, Dorothy and John Peckham passed the time by writing notes and throwing them overboard inside empty champagne bottles in essence, creating a message in a bottle. They asked anyone who found one of their bottles to write them back, and even went so far as to include a $1 bill to cover the postage.
On March 4, 1983, John’s 70th birthday, the couple received a letter from Hoa Van Nguyen. Nguyen, a former soldier in the Vietnamese Army, said he and his younger brother had found one of the Peckhams’ message in a bottle creations as the two men were floating 15 kilometers from the shore of Songkhla Province in Thailand. They were braving the waters of the Pacific in a small, shallow riverboat in order to escape the Communist regime in Vietnam. When they saw the bottle, they felt as though a prayer had been answered, giving them the strength to carry on. After reading the letter, the Peckhams looked for Songkhla on a map and were shocked to find that the message in a bottle had traveled 9,000 miles from Hawaii.
The Peckhams corresponded with Hoa for years, sharing in his joy when they received a photo from his wedding, then again nine months later when they saw his newborn son. But most of all, they empathized with Hoa’s desire to give his family the best life he could. So when Hoa asked if the Peckhams could help his family move to the U.S., they didn’t hesitate. After months of working with U.S. Immigration, the two families finally did meet in 1985, when a plane from Thailand landed in Los Angeles—the Nguyens’ new home.
A Search for Love
Ake Viking was a lonely Swedish sailor who decided to place his search for love in the hands of fate. He wrote a simple letter “To Someone Beautiful and Far Away,” corked it inside a bottle, and tossed it overboard in the hopes that it might help him find a young woman to marry. A message in a bottle to where?
Two years later, in 1958, he was surprised to receive a letter from a Sicilian girl, Paolina, who said, “I am not beautiful, but it seems so miraculous that this little message in a bottle should have traveled so far and long to reach me that I must send you an answer…” The two began writing one another and, three years after he threw a bottle into the sea, Ake moved to Sicily to marry his very long-distance love.
Sailor in Hawaii Finds Message in a Bottle from Japan
PACIFIC MISSILE RANGE FACILITY, Hawaii -- A sailor participating in a beach cleanup in Hawaii found a message in bottle that had been dropped in the ocean more than five years ago by a school girl in Japan.
Petty Officer Jon Moore stumbled upon the clear glass bottle Thursday at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai. Inside, he found a note from Saki Arikawa, four origami flowers, and a photo of Arikawa's sixth grade glass in Kagoshima.
The note was dated March 25, 2006. It read, "I wrote this letter because we'll graduate elementary school so I wanted it to be a graduation memory."The Navy says Moore was among 40 base personnel and 16 students and faculty from a Kauai school who picked up beach trash in observance of International Coastal Cleanup Day.
A Fisherman’s Story
In 1999, Steve Gowan spotted something clinging to his fishing nets. It was a very old bottle containing two letters written by Private Thomas Hughes, dated September 9, 1914. The first bottle asked the person that found the message in a bottle to forward the second message to Hughes’ wife, Elizabeth. The note for Elizabeth was a nice, simple love letter, showing that his wife was in his thoughts as he made his way to France to fight in the early days of World War I.
After reading the letters, Gowan felt a great personal responsibility to see that they found their way home, even though he assumed Mrs. Hughes had died long ago. He began searching for her descendants and soon learned that Thomas and Elizabeth Hughes’ daughter was still alive in Auckland, New Zealand.
Sadly, Hughes died in battle shortly after he wrote the letters, so he never got to see Elizabeth, nor his two-year old daughter, Emily, ever again. Due to her young age at the time of his death, Emily never knew her father, though she grew up listening to stories about him from her mother and cherishing his posthumously award medals. So when The New Zealand Post offered to send Gowan to Auckland to hand deliver the bottle to Emily, he jumped at the chance to help her connect to this lost piece of her past.
For Emily, the message in a bottle was a great source of joy and comfort. She said her father’s message couldn’t come home “until the right boat came along at the right time with the right fisherman.”
Grandpa’s Boat… Salmon Story
One year ago, off the coast of Oregon, a ten-year-old boy tossed a message in a bottle into the Pacific Ocean. Weeks ago, a 9-year-old girl in Hawaii found it. According to a popular article from AP, Thomas Craig never expected his message in a bottle to arrive safely in anyone's hands. He said he could not believe that someone had found it.
He said that he was shocked because when he threw the message in a bottle overboard,
it hit the top of his grandpa's boat so he thought it broke and sank. The chances of someone finding it seemed like a once-in-a-million type thing.
His seafaring send-and-receive beat the odds when Trinity Ballesteros of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, saw the message in a bottle washed up on the beach. The note inside read: "Dear finder of my message, my name is Thomas and I live in Oregon. I'm ten years old and this week I'm salmon fishing deep in the ocean. I would like to hear from you."
Trinity responded (via email) to Thomas, who had included his mom's email address. Since then, the two plan to become pen pals (of the digital variety).