Retired Navy Man Reunited With Dog Tags Missing for 70 Years - NECN
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Retired Navy Man Reunited With Dog Tags Missing for 70 Years

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    Retired Navy Man Reunited With Dog Tags Missing for 70 Years

    North Chelmsford, Massachusetts resident Bill Ledwell was young - in the Navy - and helping to mothball ships in Florida when he misplaced his dog tags seven decades ago.

    (Published Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017)

    It's Veterans' Day weekend - a time to remember the men and women who have served the country.

    But this year, the memories of one Massachusetts vet have been brought into focus by a missing part of his past.

    "I was going to be a career man. The Navy decided I ain't," Bill Ledwell said with a laugh.

    File under lost and found: Ledwell was young, in the Navy, and helping to mothball ships in Florida when he misplaced dog tags seven decades ago.

    "I don't remember how I lost it 75 years ago."

    Now rewind two weeks, the missing dog tags arrived at his North Chelmsford home, discovered by a man who found them at the bottom of a Florida river.

    "I was shocked. Somebody found them with a metal detector."

    Ledwell still has one of his original dog tags. It was given to him in 1942 when he was 17 and first joined the Navy.

    "There's no way you're going to give it up. I mean hey, you eat chocolate cake you're going to remember it, right."

    Now, 92, that's how he recalls his nearly 10 years in the Navy, serving most of his time on the USS Monterey, an aircraft carrier that nearly scuttled during a typhoon in December of 1945.

    "We lost everything."

    The crew, which at one point included future president Gerald Ford, survived the storm as well as World War II. Ledwell survived the Korean War, too, and eventually came home to work for RCA, marry, and raise his family.

    "It fell off with my wife's ring."

    Just last week this chain broke, and he lost his wife's ring and, you guessed it, his newly rediscovered dog tags, stirring up memories on this Veterans Day weekend.

    "I enjoyed that ship. It was almost like a home to me."

    File under found and lost. But not forgotten.

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