FOREST LAKE, Minn. - At Goodwill in Forest Lake, while many shoppers this month search for what to wear on Halloween, World War II collector Matt Stone is shopping for historic uniforms to save from becoming costumes.
"World War II enlisted man's visor cap. it was literally tucked in there and all I saw was the button," Stone points out inside the Halloween hats section of the store.
This week he found a matching jacket.
"I saw the wool. Sort of a giveaway that its an older uniform," Stone said.
And it had features that made him wonder if they were intended to be donated.
"It seemed odd to me that all the ribbons and insignias were still on it," Stone said.
The garments each bore a name: Makkyla. Martin Makkyla of Embarrass, Minn., 191 miles north of Forest Lake.
Matt collects and sells World War II items thanks to his great-grandfather.
"He would tell me all the stories about his service and it just really piqued my interest of learning about it," Stone said.
But the 22-year-old wants to make sure decorated uniforms he finds no longer belong to a soldier's family.
So KARE 11 helped him track down the Makkyla descendants.
"Really just disbelief," Jane Boyer said she felt when told the uniform was found.
Boyer, Martin Makkyla's niece, says the the uniform has been missing for many years after being stolen out of the family homestead up north.
"Just something we didn't think we'd ever see again," Boyer said.
The family actually believes the jacket and the hat belong to two separate soldiers. Brothers. Who both served in World War 2.
Martin died in 1969 and his brother Jack died in 1981. Neither had children. But their nieces can't wait for the family heirlooms to be returned.
And this young historian can't wait to be the one to do it.
"I hope they feel pretty happy that you know, a 22-year-old kid in this day and age is going to these stores saving this stuff and returning in to the family," Stone said.