What Lies Inside
He had just placed the final bid that ultimately won the contents of a storage container that he thought would become the dream of a lifetime. When he uncovered what is really inside this container he was left shaken to the core.
He just didn’t know what to think. But how could this have happened?
What’s In The Box?
Lafayette resident Shawn Pullen decided to put everything on the line when he left his job to open a thrift store. He was just getting comfortable with bidding on storage containers that were on auction, but he’d never expected to find something so chilling inside.
He had come across some strange items so far, but he been wholly unprepared for anything like this.
With big dreams of finding a classic car or a priceless artifact, Shawn stood outside the container with about 15 to 20 other people eager to catch a glimpse of what was inside. So far he had been lucky, managing to sell the contents he won in his shop, S & J Variety Store, for just a little over what he had paid for the entire lot.
Half the fun was never knowing what was inside these storage containers – but that was the danger, too.
The Bidding Begins
The auctioneer opened the auction and the bidding war began. Shawn loved the thrill of it, but cautioned himself to hold back a little – it was his life’s savings that was at stake here. His wife would never forgive him if he blew it all on a container that would turn out to be filled with nothing but junk.
He upped his bid to $500 and held his breath.
When there were no counter offers on the unit and the bidding had officially come to a close, he was shattered and shaking. As reality returned he realized exactly what he had done… There had better be something amazing inside that box. He had won!
Shawn slowly walked into the unit with his friend who had come along for the ride. He felt sweat prickle the back of his neck and forehead as he looked around in dismay.
The unit was packed full of old furniture. Shawn swept the inside of the container with his eyes, mentally calculating the value of the items for resale. The furniture alone wouldn’t cover the high price he’d laid out for this unit.
But maybe he had missed something…
A Closer Look
He began to pull the wooden chairs and old bookcases out from their corners, praying that he’d find something that would make his purchase worthwhile. Little did he know, his friend had already discovered something. In one corner, there were some cardboard boxes.
Shawn’s friend opened one and began to rummage inside while Shawn looked behind the dusty old furniture. Then, he shrieked.
Shawn turned around, alarmed. His friend, without saying a word, pointed to the wooden box on the floor. Shawn, with his thoughts racing, gathered that he had obviously recoiled from what he’d seen inside.
Shawn’s eyes flew to his friend’s hand, where he saw that he was grasping the unmistakable blue-and-white of an American flag.
Shawn’s friend, by now, had recovered slightly to explain what he had seen. “Man, there’s a body in this box,” he stammered, with a face as white as a sheet. But Shawn couldn’t – or wouldn’t – grasp exactly what his friend was trying to tell him.
“What do you mean there’s a body?” he asked, incredulous.
Shawn cautiously stepped closer to examine what was inside the box, not truly wanting to know. Surely his friend was mistaken. All the hairs on his arms prickled and his heart raced as he gingerly lifted the lid and peeked inside.
And, sure enough, he discovered that his friend was right. But how had this happened?
The writing on the box said “Herein are the cremated remains of NEWCOMB, Ryan Michael,” along with some other details. But with no other contact details on the box, Shawn was absolutely crestfallen. Who was the rightful owner? Surely these ashes belonged with the man’s family? And then, he knew just what he had to do.
He took the box and flag back to his store.
“Once I got it here, I decided to display it,” said Pullen, referring to a box carrying the remains and a folded flag that was found with it. “I would tell everybody, ‘Hey, man, have you met Ryan?’ I made sure everyone who walked in the store saw it.”
Hopefully, someone could shed some light on how the man’s ashes had ended up in a forgotten storage container.
The box and flag were kept on display in Shawn’s store for three months before some customers stepped in to help with a great idea. They suggested that they try to locate the funeral home from where it came from in Metairie, Louisiana, to hopefully find the soldier’s family.
With that decision, they hoped they could solve the mystery.
With a little digging and a lot of luck, they managed to find out that Ryan Newcomb had served in the Navy as a nuclear engineer, but had been honorably discharged shortly afterward. He had been 42 years old.
Unknown to all, however, Ryan did not come home when he had passed and, instead, was kept in a random storage unit in Tennessee.
Chris Newcomb, a resident of Longmont, Colorado, said that the funeral home got in touch with him to let him know that somebody had found his brother Ryan’s ashes. Chris reportedly thought all along that they had been with Ryan’s widow, who also thought that they were with them.
When they found out where he really was, they were all surprised.
The Kindness Of Strangers
“Thank goodness a man like Shawn found these,” Chris Newcomb told news reporters. “It just helps to reassure you that there are good people out in the world,” he added, choking back tears.
Chris and Paul were very close growing up and knowing his brother had been missing had made the past year extra painful for the family.
Honoring A Hero
“During an incident, he suffered an injury,” said Chris. “My brother was a one-of-a-kind person, that’s for sure.” Shawn said that finding the family was the least he could do to make sure that the navy vet reaches his loved ones.
His decision to not only honor the vet but also to find his loved ones turned out to be the trigger for many good things that followed.
“I thought it was a horrible thing to happen to my brother, y’know?” said Chris.
“I was shocked to find this out. At the same time, I felt thankful and elated somebody who’s a good person went the extra mile. Without Shawn’s intervention, we would’ve never known he was out there. It’s really nice to see him come home to the people who loved him. We just want to thank Shawn, and I’m sure the whole world appreciates people like him too.”
Shawn said that it was a long-deserved reunion. “I felt he spent too long being secluded,” he said about his decision to set the memorial up for everyone to see.
“This way, he was out and people saw him. I would say ‘hi’ to him almost every day when I walked through the door.”
Even though Shawn lives in Colorado, he was more than happy to make the long trip to meet up with Shawn in person. Ryan’s ashes have since been laid to rest with his loved ones.
Shortly after, Shawn decided that the veteran deserved to be honored for his service, so he set up a permanent tribute to the fallen hero in his store.