DAYTON, Minnesota — Inside a box full of old auto service manuals, Tim Huttner found a piece of military history.

"I had shivers running down my spine," Huttner said.

While working at Huttner Enterprises, an automotive repair shop in Dayton, Huttner said a customer wanted to get rid of the box and gave it to him. As he went through the box, Huttner spotted a large brown envelope from the War Department. It was addressed to an Andrew Halden in Isanti, Minn. 

The 1947 letter, from Brigadier General G.A. Horkan, notified the family of Staff Sgt. LeRoy Stanley Halden that their son had been buried in Belgium at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery. Halden was killed December 30, 1944 while fighting in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. He was 31 years old. Halden's remains were later moved to Fort Snelling National Cemetery.

WWII letter
Tim Huttner shows the letter he discovered in a box full of old auto service manuals.
Devin Krinke

"I didn't want to be the guy to not get it back to them," Huttner said, talking about Halden's family.

Huttner posted the letter on Facebook and, with the help of others, was able to track down a family member in Lebanon, Indiana. Huttner was determined to hand-deliver the document.

"If he went to the Battle of the Bulge and he landed there and he died on those shores, he went a long way. So why shouldn't I be the guy to spend a weekend and burn a bunch of fuel to be there to say, 'Look, I know this is yours.' It seems kind of impersonal to send it through the mail," Huttner said.

Huttner left Friday, driving from Champlin, Minn. to Lebanon, Ind. He then met Halden's niece, Sandra Halden, at her home on Saturday afternoon.

LeRoy Stanley Halden
LeRoy Stanley Halden served with the 39th Infantry in Belgium where he was killed in action on December 30, 1944.
Halden family

"It's unbelievable that he found these," said Sandra, talking to WTHR, the NBC affiliate in Indianapolis. "For a man to take the time to drive 11 hours to bring me some papers, you just don't hear of that these days."

Huttner spent time at the house, looking at photos of Staff Sgt. Halden and learning more about their family history.

"You know, this is history. You don't call FedEx when you have a piece of history to move; you call some people to carry it," Huttner said. "I had to make sure she gets this from my hands to hers."

Huttner returned to Minnesota on Sunday afternoon.