Saturday, January 14, 2012

Doughboy dog tags

Frenchmen Michael Jean Toussaint and Claude Fonderflick have been using metal detectors to search for artifacts on World War I battlefields (1st image, troops who fought in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive). When they turn up military ID tags, they attempt to return them to the soldier's family. They have succeeded in some instances and are still researching others:

Kent Potter
Unit 139, of the 134th Infantry Division, Company M, U. S. Army

Found: Liverdun, Lorraine, France
Returned: Cottonwood Falls, Kansas, U.S.
A ceremony was held at the Chase County Historical Museum on Thursday to restore the dog tag of Infantryman Kent Potter (3rd image) to his family 94 years after it was lost. Potter did not lose his life on the battlefield, but possibly while hauling supplies when - according to family legend - he put his gas mask on his mule to protect it from a mustard gas attack. Potter returned to his home state to tell such stories, marry, and raise a family. His son, Dale Potter (2nd image, examining a photo with Doris Archer), accepted the medal (photo here), who said, "I'm amazed that these 2 people in France still remember and appreciate what the United States did for their country....My dad didn't die there, he came home. There were so many who did not get to come home."

Leonard Stoltz
Found: A field near the village of Vaxainville, France
Returned: Montezuma, Ohio
Audrey Stoltz (photo here) and her siblings Jack Stoltz (photo here) and Joyce Ann Kiser claimed the military ID of their father from the 2 Frenchmen and received it by mail. They were glad to have it, even though they remember very little about him. One day in the 1930s, Leonard Stoltz - who was a deputy sheriff at the time and had served in the military before he married - went to the grocery store and never came back. They had only learned in 1987 that their father had died in 1968 at a veterans hospital in Miami and had been buried in a veterans cemetery in Andersonville, Georgia. The dog tag only answers a few of the many questions they are left with. Says Jack, "When he left, we went to live with our grandparents. Unfortunately, the house burnt up, and all the pictures were lost. The dog tag is the only thing we have."

The dog tag of Walter Renfro was returned to a descendant in El Paso, Illinois. "When they first called, my husband and I thought it was some kind of scam. No one is that nice anymore," said Renfro's granddaughter, Rita Drake, who is helping Toussaint and Fonderflick search for relatives of 2 other soldiers, Frank Kubas (Kansas City, Kansas) and Charles R. Thomas (home state uncertain).


  1. your blog is amazing! it feels nice to find someone that shares my secret morbid obsessions. cheers from peru! :)

  2. I want to promote you brave soldier via Scratch Card

  3. I have been searching for the dogtags of my great uncle who died in WWI on July 23, 1918 in The Battle of Château-Thierry . His name was Brasso Famoso. He is buried at Oise-Aisne Cemetery in Picardie, France.


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