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WWII veteran reunited with dog tags after 70 years

By Mike Anderson | Posted - Aug 30th, 2013 @ 8:16pm

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LOGAN — A World War II veteran has been reunited with his dog tags nearly 70 years after he lost them.

92 year-old Eldon Drake said he can't remember where or how he lost his dog tags, only that he was in Saipan at the time. In May, he said he got a mysterious phone call from overseas with a very big surprise.

Drake said another soldier overseas, Saipan native Staff Sgt. Fabian Indalecio, found the dog tags and took on an exhaustive search to find out if the owner was still alive.

"He was so flabbergasted, so to speak, when he found out I was alive," Drake said.

Each dog tag has a unique number, and Drake said when he heard Indalecio read off the same set of numbers as the ones he wore, he knew it was really his dog tags.

Drake joined the Marine reserves in 1943, making his way to the small western pacific island of Saipan the next year, not long after the infamous battle that occurred there.

"Saipan in and of itself was the last real fortress that we had, because they were trying to get to the mainland of Japan," Drake said.

With the tarnished dog tags back in his hands, Drake said visions of the past started creeping back, both the good memories and the not-so-good.

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"Some I've forgotten about," Drake said. "Some I don't even talk about."

He said it was amazing to him that such a small piece of metal survived so many years.

"The thing I like about this is it endured wherever it was," Drake said. "Whether it was along that mountain range, or whether it was out in the jungle, I can't tell you where that happened."

The fact that a complete stranger worked so hard to get the dog tags back to him made an impression.

"(It) was a big memory in my life to find someone who cared enough to see if that guy is still alive," Drake said.

Drake said Indalecio bought the dog tags from a child who found it and then set out to find the owner.

Indalecio had similar incidents of returning lost property prior to his meeting with Drake. The Saipan Tribune reported that he also returned a set of old dog tags to a World War II veteran in Maryland last July.


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