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Military ID lost at sea for 55 years before Utah family reunites it with owner

Military ID lost at sea for 55 years before Utah family reunites it with owner

(Garrett Taschuk)

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ST. GEORGE — Seven-year-old Carsyn Taschuk was searching for sand dollars and seashells on California’s Monterey Beach July 3 while on a family vacation. While trying to retrieve a seashell she had dropped, Carsyn discovered something much more meaningful instead, though she didn’t realize it at the time.

“I didn't really know (what it was), and I gave it to my mom,” Carsyn said.

When her father, Garrett Taschuk, joined the rest of the group, he recognized the item right away: an old military ID card.

“I knew exactly what it was,” Garrett Taschuk said. “I myself was stationed in the Navy from 2001 to 2008, so I'm very familiar with what they look like.”

The ID card was issued in 1959 and was still in good condition, considering that it had been in the ocean for more than 50 years. The issue date, owner’s name, birthday and signature were still clearly visible. That information made it possible to identify the owner.

In 1960, 18-year-old Daniel Napier was a staff man at Monterey, California’s Naval Postgraduate School working as a mechanic with electronic computers. After returning from a shower in the barracks, he discovered that his wallet containing $40, his driver's license and military ID was missing.

“The assumption was that it was stolen,” Napier said. “Apparently it was, and whoever stole it, threw it in the ocean to get rid of it.”

Fifty-five years later, the Taschuk family posted for help on Facebook to locate the owner of the ID card. Six hours later, Napier’s son reached out to the family saying it belonged to his dad, who now lives in Litchfield, Illinois.

Napier was thrilled when he heard the news from his son and saw the photo of his old ID card.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Napier said. “It was 1960 when that went into the ocean!”

Napier said seeing the ID card brought back memories including how it was stolen, the process of getting a new one and the friends he made when he worked in Monterey.

“All that stuff came flooding back, and ever since then, I've been wondering about my (shipmates),” Napier said. “I worked with really one of the best groups of people I had every worked with in my life, and I had wondered about where they are. So, if I could get a little computer savvy, I might start looking for those of us who are still alive.”

Napier’s son also had a connection to the Taschuk family: He was friends with Carsyn’s uncle and they lived in the same small, border town in northern Minnesota called International Falls.

“It's not like Daniel and I, we grew up in L.A. together or San Francisco or some big town,” Garrett Taschuk said. “It's literally this little, small town of 5,000 to 6,000 people. The odds are just mind blowing."

Garrett Taschuk said that they’re planning on sending the ID to Napier and are teasing the idea of sending a $20 bill from the '60s and a $20 bill from this year, too.

“We are currently making plans to send the ID card to him,” Garrett Taschuk said. “That was always our intention — to give it to the owner.”

Napier said he is excited to have his old ID card back and plans on learning how to use Facebook to try to connect with some of his old friends.

Camilla Stimpson is a news writing intern for and enjoys reporting on politics, crimes and her own awkward moments on When not writing, she can be found watching "30 Rock" or "Law & Order," napping, planning trips she can't afford and Googling dogs she can't have.


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