Lost, found and returned – 40 years later, ‘it means everything’


Story and photos by John Hummer
Exponent staff writer
A couple of months ago William McMurray, adjutant for Wilber-Bartlett American Legion Post #315 in Brooklyn, received a thank you card in appreciation for the military stories he writes for The Exponent.
“In the card, the woman included a little packet which had a military dog tag inside,” McMurray said.
A “dog tag” is an informal but common term for the identification tag worn by a person serving in the military because of its resemblance to tags commonly worn by dogs.

Patricia Fitzgerald and William McMurray adjutant for Wilber-Bartlett Post #315

Shortly thereafter, McMurray wrote in one of his Exponent columns that the military dog tag had been mailed to him.
It happens that Joyce Merriman, of Clarklake, read McMurray’s column that included the receipt of the dog tag. Merriman, a Manchester High School 1951 graduate, bumped into classmate Patricia Fitzgerald at an ice cream social this summer in Manchester. The news of the found dog tag, then in possession of McMurray, was shared by Merriman with Patricia.
Patricia’s late husband, U.S. Air Force veteran Joseph F. Fitzgerald, who served during the Korean War era from 1950-54 and was staff sergeant, lost his two military dog tags some 40 years ago. Joseph passed away earlier this year on May 17.
Patricia then got in touch with McMurray by phone.
“I had Joe’s military records out that had all his numbers on it [that would match with those on the dog tag],” Patricia said.

Wayne Blank, American Legion district commander, congratulates Patricia Fitzgerald on her late husband Joseph’s military dog tag being found and returned to her.

Recently, the long-lost dog tags were finally returned to the family of whom it belonged to during a short ceremony at the Brooklyn American Legion Post.
“It took me two months to track down who owned these dog tags, and tonight we have his family here to which we’d like to give his dog tag back,” McMurray
Patricia said “it means everything” to her that one of the dog tags was returned to her.
“He loved the Air Force and he loved the military,” she said, add that her husband often talked about the B-36 he flew on for reconnaissance missions all around the world. He was a radar mechanic.
So just how did, Staff Sergeant Fitzgerald’s military dog tags get lost in the first place?

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