WATERTOWN (WKOW) — A Watertown man has made it his mission to match mystery pictures of World War Two veterans with the men in their frames.
Three weeks ago, Bill Jannke inherited a box of pictures that used to be in a since-torn-down Watertown bar.
The box was full of roughly 150 pictures of World War II veterans that hung on the walls of “The Hofbrau.” About 80 photos didn’t have names associated with the people in them.
That didn’t sit well with Jannke. “Every face deserves a name,” he said.
Jannke works at the Jefferson County Veteran’s Service Office, so he was the right guy for the job. He started scanning the pictures into a database of vets and trying to match them with names listed with the service, but it didn’t work.
That’s when he got an idea. “Everybody and his uncle is on Facebook these days,” he said. “So maybe, just maybe, they would be able to identify a few of these people.”
Mason posted a few dozen of the photos to a Facebook group called “You’re From Watertown, Wisconsin If You Remember…”
Right away, his post caught people’s attention, including Mason Braunschweig. “This hit Facebook like wildfire,” he said. “It was viral, as they say.”
When Braunschweig saw the post, he was shocked. “The very first picture was my paternal grandfather, Howard Braunschweig, who served in World War II,” he said.
What was even more surprising was that it was a picture of his grandfather that he’d never seen before.
“I’m getting a frame for it,” Braunschweig said. “I have my grandfather’s flag. So, I’m going to put that right above where I have his flag in my house.”
Mason is a veteran himself, as is his father. Seeing the picture of his grandfather brought him a wave of emotions.
“With my grandfather being gone 13 years, yeah, it means a lot,” he said.
For Jannke, that’s what it’s all about.
“I’m delighted to be able to reunite families with some of these images,” he said. “It’s just a snapshot of a lost era that we’ll never get back again.”