Merchant Marine Dog Tags Returned 70 Years Later

Approximately 70 years ago, back in 1951, a man by the name of Robert decided to go swimming. Robert was only 18 years old but he had just joined the U.S.M.S. If you have never heard of the USMS then I am not surprised. It stands for the United States Maritime Service and it was a service that trained individuals for ships that would form the US Merchant Marine. This was eventually dissolved around in 1959 but needless to say, Robert volunteered to the service to start a new life and career.

Unfortunately that day Robert decided to go swimming at the local beach, he thought to himself, maybe I should take my dog tags off first. Well he decided it would be alright and when he got out the water, those dog tags were gone for good. Robert’s heart sank. Those tags were his identity, his pass to get back on his ship. Although he made it back on his ship, he never saw those tags again until now.

That’s where I came in. Nearly 70 years later, I’m neck deep in water with my metal detector and I get a decent tone to dig up with my trusty stainless steel scoop. In it were Robert’s dog tags! I didn’t think much of it at first, but then I realized I found something very special. Not only was this type of tag rare but even more unique was when it was made due to the steel shortage at the time.

I had trouble tracking Robert down plus I had no idea if he would be around. But I had a number and decided to call. As pure luck would have it, the first call was him. Robert couldn’t believe it and was just stunned. Of course he wanted his tag back and I was able to drive to his house so I could hand deliver it to him. Keeping safety in mind, we were able to chat for a little while with his wife and neighbor who was like a daughter to them. I learned a lot about his story and what a great man he is. Among many things, he’s a great painter and a poet in fact. As a thank you, he gave me this wonderful book of poems he wrote . I did not expect anything in return but he insisted as I left. It truly was a honor to meet him and to learn of his accomplishments.

Now I don’t write much on Facebook. I’m not here to seek attention and tell you my current mood for the day or week. Nor am I here to share my stupid political views, memes, gripes, complaints or whatever agenda I see being shared about. I really have better things to do with my time and life is too short.

I’m sharing this because of what it meant to bring someone pure happiness during times that have been tough and seemingly divided among so many. I share this because it felt good to give back to a total stranger. I learned so much in such a short time and to see someone smile like that was priceless to me. So if you are reading this, then I dare you to do the same. Do something selfless for someone else even if it’s just once. Giving back or bringing joy to another can change lives. Try it and you may even surprise yourself in the process.