Featured photo courtesy David Hollingsworth (via AP)
ALBANY, N.Y. – Dorothy Hollingsworth was just 7 when her brother Tom left the family farm in Indiana to join the Army a few months before the United States entered World War II. She never saw him again.
Now, more than 70 years after Pfc. Thomas E. Davis was killed in the war’s final battle, a tangible reminder of her beloved sibling has been found on the Pacific island of Saipan — one of his Army dog tags.
“He was a great guy,” said Hollingsworth, 82, who lives outside Dayton, Ohio, noting that some of her earliest memories are of the tall, thin sibling 17 years her senior who always sat next to her at the dinner table. “He was always laughing and singing and whistling.”
Cultural historian Genevieve Cabrera told The Associated Press in an email that she found the discolored metal tag sticking out of the soil of a farm field on Saipan in early 2014. It was embossed with Davis’ name, serial number, hometown and other information.
Cabrera recently gave the tag to members of Kuentai, a Japan-based organization that has found the remains of five 27th Division soldiers on Saipan. The group notified the AP this month about the dog tag’s discovery in the hope that his relatives could be found. The AP tracked down members of the soldier’s family with the help of Anthony Barger, the archivist for the Putnam County Public Library.
Kuentai representatives said they’ll arrange to meet the Davis family in the U.S. to hand over the tag.
While it is relatively common to find canteens, weapons and even unexploded shells from the 100,000 Americans and Japanese who fought for 25 days on the 46-square-mile island, dog tags remain a rare find, Cabrera said. The tags, attached to a chain worn around the neck, were the only item of military-issued gear a soldier wore daily that included potentially life-saving information such as blood type and when a tetanus shot was administered.
A year before Davis died in the battle for Okinawa in April 1945, he earned one of the nation’s highest military honors after surviving the bloody fighting on Saipan.
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