The Depot

Lost Military Dog Tags: 5 Inspiring Stories of Dog Tags Returned Home

Old rusted WWII dog tags

Considering that the United States has thousands of military members still accounted for, it should come as no surprise that there are thousands of lost dog tags. Lost dog tags have been found overseas and domestically. And these lost dog tags somehow stir in those that find them an energy that drives them to find the owners or their next of kin. While we can’t explain why people choose to hunt down the homes of these lost dog tags, we can share five great stories of how lost dog tags found their way back where they belong.

World War II
At a Florida flea market, a man came across a set of lost dog tags. The gentleman, a veteran, was angry that someone would be selling the dog tags. The vet tried, unsuccessfully, to have the vendor give him the lost dog tags, so he purchased them and thus began his attempt to home the lost dog tags.

The veteran turned to a non-profit that helps connect people who find dog tags with owners of lost dog tags. The veteran learned that the lost dog tags belonged to Army WWII Veteran, George Kroeger, who was originally from Ohio, but after the war Kroeger and his family moved to Florida.

Sadly, Kroeger passed away in 1986 and his wife and a son both died in 2005. There was no way to determine how his dog tag ended up in a flea market, but some guess that in the shuffle of estates the lost dog tags ended up in the hands of a vendor.

Luckily, the folks at the non-profit found a surviving son of Kroeger and he was presented his father’s dog tags.

A young boy in Missouri crawled underneath the wrap-around porch of his friend’s house where the two would go and hide. It was under that porch in Cassville, Missouri that the boy would find a lost dog tag that belonged to a Korean War draftee.

The boy grew into a man and kept the lost dog tag for years and as an adult he eventually figured out that the dog tags that he had were likely valuable to someone else. Like others, he reached out to a non-profit for help. 

They researched and discovered that the lost dog tags belonged to Billy Ray Fogg who was drafted into the Army in 1952. Sadly, Fogg was deceased, having died in 1989, but his wife survived and she was reunited with her husband’s dog tags.  

The dog tags of U.S. Army soldier Jackie Dale Walker from Oklahoma made their way home in 2012 after spending decades in the jungle in Southeast Asia. The lost dog tags belonging to Walker, who left behind a mother, father, sisters and brothers when he died in Vietnam in 1968, were returned to his family.

The lost dog tags were presented to his family 44 years after his death. This was made possible because a Wall Street trader was touring the Ho Chi Minh trail in 1998 and he came upon a Vietnamese man who had collected dog tags he had found over the years. He had more than 100 of them and the trader purchased them for $1 each.

Over the years, many more were returned by the trader, but eventually his efforts turned into an organized effort to help return the lost dog tags to their rightful owners.

Cold War
In 2021, a wildland firefighter in Arizona found a set of lost dog tags wrapped around a rear-view mirror, on I-17 just outside of Phoenix. Interestingly, 22 years earlier, a Marine Corps veteran was involved in car accident at that same site.

The Marine’s vehicle went off the road and flipped several times causing the veteran to suffer internal injuries and multiple fractures. A passenger in his car died from injuries sustained in the crash.

The rear-view mirror from the Marine vet’s car was broken off and thrown from the vehicle where they were found, more than 20 years later by the firefighter.

In 2021, the firefighter returned the lost dog tags to the Marine veteran. It turns out the two live close to each other.

Global War on Terror
An employee at an Ohio-based company found a set of lost dog tags in their work space and with some help they tracked down the retired Army National Guard officer who was the rightful owner.

The gentleman served in Iraq as a public affairs officer in 2004 and the tags have since been reunited with him.

If you have come across a set of lost dog tags, please consider reaching out to a veteran service organization. They might be able to direct you to an organization that helps home lost dog tags with their rightful owners or their families.

Comments on this post ( 2 )

  • May 03, 2023

    Mary Bell,

    That’s a tough one. Try looking in the place you last saw them. But you should know most lost and found departments at most organizations empty or donate their lost and found items to charities about every few months. So they might be unrecoverable, but you never know. I lost mine from 1983 and found them in a box in my garage, so don’t give up hope. Steve

    — Steve at USAMM

  • May 03, 2023

    My military dog tags were lost in 1981. Where would I go to see if anyone turned them in?

    — Mary Bell

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