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History Detectives: WWII Diary, Tokyo Rose Recording, Crazy Horse Photo

This diary belonged to a WWII pilot who died in the war. The son of his wartime friend recovered the diary and now wants to return it to the pilot’s family.
Kyle Silve
This diary belonged to a WWII pilot who died in the war. The son of his wartime friend recovered the diary and now wants to return it to the pilot’s family.

Airs Monday, July 20, 2009 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

"WWII Diary" (encore presentation) – A man in Lexington, North Carolina, has a poignant diary written by a World War II pilot. He inherited the diary 20 years ago from his father, who said it once belonged to a close friend whom he fought alongside in WWII, until the war took his friend’s life in 1944. Keeping the last thoughts of this fallen solider is now too great a burden for the contributor. Can "History Detectives" return it to a living relative? The stakes are raised as the diary pages reveal the story of a young American pilot stationed in England, racing against time and all odds to return home before the birth of his first child. Host Wes Cowan heads to Florida on a quest to reunite the diary with the pilot’s surviving family.

"Tokyo Rose Recording" – A "History Detectives" viewer has a recording he thinks holds evidence used in the World War II treason trial of Iva Tugori, aka Tokyo Rose. Toguri was an American citizen who hosted a Japanese propaganda radio show broadcast to U.S. troops serving in the Pacific. These broadcasts were at the center of what was then the costliest trial in U.S. history. The viewer has never been able to play his oversized record, but family lore says it reveals the role his uncle played in this infamous show trial. Host Gwendolyn Wright consults with experts from Long Island to Los Angeles. Her answer flips assumptions of guilt and innocence, and gives viewers a fresh angle on what actually happened in and around that trial. Watch an interview with Gwen Wright online.

"Crazy Horse Photo" – Twenty-five years ago, someone gave a leather purse to a Lakota businessman. Inside the purse he found a photograph and a note, dated 1904, written in the Lakota language. An elderly man from the Lakota community translated the note. In brief, it says, “This is a photograph of Crazy Horse.” Does the contributor have the Holy Grail of the Wild West: a photo of the Lakota warrior who defeated General Custer? Historians are suspicious of most photos purported to be of Crazy Horse. The Lakota leader avoided cameras, believing they would rob his soul.

To verify the photo, "History Detectives" host Elyse Luray tracks down a Crazy Horse descendant and visits the Crazy Horse Memorial. Finally, she puts the photo in context with other works by the same photographer at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Watch an interview with Elyse Luray.

There are more than 100 "History Detectives" investigations online for you to browse. You can find a particular investigation by Historical Era, Region, Season or Detective. Think you have a case for "History Detectives?" Send us your mystery!