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Specialist Kevin Kaiser, second from right, 2nd Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, and his wife Tracy were recognized by Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, commanding general, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, for returning over $9,000 they found in a bag Tracy purchased at the Bragg 'n Barn Thrift Store.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - What would you do if you found over $9,000' Would you keep it' Would you look for the owner' Would you keep some of it and turn the rest in saying that's all there was' What if you were getting ready to travel across the country to visit Family and could really use the extra money'

On May 11, Tracy Kaiser was on a mission. She was searching for a bargain at the Bragg 'n Barn Thrift Store and hoping to find some inexpensive suitcases for a trip to Nebraska. She found a large, black bag for her husband to use.

"It was a good deal. It had lots of big pockets and I checked out the main compartment at the store. It was exactly what I needed and only cost seven dollars," recalled Tracy.

When she got home, Tracy was looking over her purchases and opened some of the side pockets to see how roomy they were. What she found was a huge increase on her seven dollar investment.

"There was a black, leather pouch in the side pocket with stacks of bills paper-clipped together with sticky notes on them," she said.

Tracy counted the money with her husband, Spc. Kevin Kaiser, 2nd Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, not believing that no one found the money earlier.

Even though the Kaisers have four children and live off a single income, Tracy said that it didn't even cross her mind to keep it and she immediately returned the bag and the money to the store.

Christiana Leake, the manager of the thrift store, was at work that day. She said the whole incident was remarkable.

"It was surprising. Not only that we hadn't found the money when we first received the bag, but how much there was," said Leake. "I was thinking maybe it was just a few hundred, not over $9,000."

Leake and her staff recounted the money and contacted the military police. Because the bag was on consignment, the store kept track of who brought the bag in. The MPs returned the money to the original owner after completing their investigation.

Meanwhile, the Kaiser Family went on their vacation without the suitcase they purchased because it was seized as evidence. It was returned to them in a ceremony Aug. 31, with another surprise in the side pocket - a $200 gift certificate for the Bragg N' Barn Thrift Store.

"Two hundred dollars in exchange for over $9,000 is not really a good comparison, but we wanted to do something for the Family," said Leake.

Lieutenant Gen. Frank Helmick, commander, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, said that the Family is a shining example of honesty and integrity.

"This is what the Army values are all about," said Helmick. "They could have spent the money and nobody would have known any different. I wish I had the $9,000 to give them, they truly are an inspiration."

Page last updated Fri September 10th, 2010 at 15:13