CHICAGO (CBS) — A World War II veteran’s lost dog tag has been returned to his family in Iowa, with an assist from the Kane County Sheriff’s office, 73 years after he helped liberate France from the Nazis.
A family in Eulmont, France, found Arthur Schmidt’s dog tag in their back yard two years ago. At first, they hesitated to do anything with it, fearing he had been killed in battle.
Eventually, a friend of that family began searching U.S. archives, and found out where Schmidt lived when he was drafted. He contacted the Kane County Sheriff’s Office, and Lt. Pat Gengler reached out to Jacob Zimmerman, the superintendent of the Kane County Veterans Assistance Commission.
Zimmerman connected the dots, and found Schmidt’s obituary while eating lunch at his computer.
“It was just amazing how lightning quick it all happened, right? This was just exchanging emails at the beginning of the month,” he said. “People are sending emails, ‘Oh, this was cool. Good job,’ and I’m like, ‘This was like five minutes Google searching. It was really nothing.’”
Before the Internet, searches of this type could take years.
Schmidt lived in Elgin for 55 years, beginning in 1941, but died in 2004.
Zimmerman matched up information from his dog tag with U.S. archive military and death records, as well as an obituary that yielded family information.
Schmidt’ s family was wary at first when they were told about the dog tag, but Zimmerman said Schmidt’s son in Iowa and the Frenchman who found the dog tag are now Internet friends.