Veteran dog tags found after missing 70 years

A World War II veteran found a remarkable discovery dating back several decades.

Frank Haggard walks a shoreline near a former naval base at least once a month.

Haggard is looking for history. Most, believed to come from some 700 Navy ships that used to dock here in Jacksonville at the end of World War II known as the "Mothball Fleet."

Haggard finds plenty of broken glass, parts of old silverware, cups and anything he find he reports to the Clay County archives.

 “We have the really good old stuff,” Archivist Vishitra Garig said.

But even Clay County Archiver Visitra Garig couldn't believe one of Haggard's finds last November.

 “It washed up on the beach like this and I happen to look down and there’s this metal. I just took it home and cleaned it.”

At home is where Haggard would uncover just part of the story.

"I was like that’s the holy grail, right there,” Garig said.

Haggard found dog tags that belong to Willliam Raynes Ledwell, who served as part of the "Mothball Fleet" station here in 1947.

The two though didn't just find out his name.

”I was happy that he was still alive,” Haggard said.

William Ledwell is now 92 and currently living near Lowell, Massachusetts. Haggard, a veteran himself in Vietnam, mailed the dog tags to Ledwell.

“He called me up and said I’ve got my dog tag and it’s around my neck where it belongs,” Haggard said.

Haggard said the 92-year-old felt like he would, like a kid with a new toy.

“Making somebody like that happy, that’s what we’re here for, we’re not here just for ourselves, we are here to teach and learn and make people aware,” he said.

Haggard says it's not just about collecting history, but remembering it.

“I’m just glad he’s got and I hope people take a better interest in History.”

As for Haggard, it's back to searching for more history that he can share.

"As long as I can still get around, I'll still be looking," Haggard said.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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