Guard clean-up uncovers stolen box

A mysterious wooden box with Japanese lettering discovered by a Marshalltown National Guardsman has helped a Madrid woman find closure.

Nathan Swaim, 18, was in Big Creek State Park near Polk City two weeks ago participating with fellow Guardsman in a litter clean-up exercise.

Swaim came across the box, which authorities speculated had been stolen and dumped in the park.

“The box had some water damage, but overall, was in decent condition,” Swaim said. “Inside were letters, jewelry and photographs.”

Swaim turned the box over to his platoon Sergeant, and the box found its way to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, which oversees the park.

Staff determined the box was owned by the late Sgt. Darrell Evans, a World War II veteran.

Staff determined Evans had passed away 17 years ago, but with more research, found his daughter, Darra Kennedy, of Madrid.

Swaim presented the box to Kennedy at a ceremony earlier this month.

Kennedy said the box and its contents revealed details she never knew about her father.

“He was on the front lines, so I know he saw a lot of war, but I didn’t realize how much,” Kennedy said.