Piece of military history finds home in Providence

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A local mystery involving a piece of military history remains unsolved.

The quest to find the descendants of Lt. Walter E. Bennett remains incomplete – but the antique trunk that once belonged to him now has a permanent home in Providence.

It went from Pawtucket to France – and then came back to Rhode Island.

Someone sold the trunk, which got its start around 1918, to local firefighter Norm Malboeuf for $5.

As it sat in his home, he started to notice its historic details.

In a previous Street Stories report, we found out the trunk belonged to Bennett, who was born in the late 1800’s. Bennett was a member of the 66th Coast Artillery Corp.

A black triangle on the trunk, with the letters AEF, indicates Lt. Bennett was part of the American Expeditionary Force.

The trunk traveled to France during World War I and was later shipped by the American Railway Express Company to an address on Glenwood Avenue in Pawtucket.

We went there, left a note and followed other leads – but we could not find Bennett’s descendants, which was Malboeuf’s first goal.

“To brighten somebody’s day up and give to this family that this gentleman fought for this country for, I think would be a great thing,” Malboeuf said.

The trunk will reside at the Providence Marine Corps of Artillery armory on Benefit Street, and some of the items in the museum will actually make the 100-year-old trunk look young.

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