After 66 Years, Veteran Reunited With Dog Tag

Joseph Farish's dog tag and military ID from 1943 i i

Joseph Farish's dog tag from 1943 was found in a tunnel in New York City last week by a 19-year-old and her boyfriend, who returned it to him. Bill Ingram/Palm Beach Post hide caption

itoggle caption Bill Ingram/Palm Beach Post
Joseph Farish's dog tag and military ID from 1943

Joseph Farish's dog tag from 1943 was found in a tunnel in New York City last week by a 19-year-old and her boyfriend, who returned it to him.

Bill Ingram/Palm Beach Post
Joseph Farish Jr. i i

Farish, who still runs a law firm in Florida, says it meant a lot to him to get his dog tag back from Sydney Rector. "I have to admire Sydney," he says. "She's a very kind and patriotic person to recognize that. To get it back to me is very dear to my heart. Thank you, Sydney." Bill Ingram/Palm Beach Post hide caption

itoggle caption Bill Ingram/Palm Beach Post
Joseph Farish Jr.

Farish, who still runs a law firm in Florida, says it meant a lot to him to get his dog tag back from Sydney Rector. "I have to admire Sydney," he says. "She's a very kind and patriotic person to recognize that. To get it back to me is very dear to my heart. Thank you, Sydney."

Bill Ingram/Palm Beach Post

A week ago, 19-year-old Sydney Rector of the Bronx went to a music store in Midtown Manhattan with her boyfriend, Stevin Tyska.

When they left, they were playing around in a tunnel between 48th and 47th streets — and that's where they stumbled across a 66-year-old dog tag.

"It's a plastic tunnel and above you there's a waterfall," Rector tells NPR's Robert Siegel. "So you see the water falling on you; it's pretty cool. We were walking through, dancing around, being stupid, and my boyfriend saw something sticking out. And we always just mess with stuff, you know. We saw it, picked up and read it. I put it in my purse, and that's how it happened."

On the dog tag was the name Joseph Farish Jr., a serial number and the address 283 Cordova Road in West Palm Beach, Fla.

That night at 9 p.m., Rector looked up Farish and found a phone number for his law firm in Florida. She left a message for him, and the next day the 87-year-old World War II veteran called her back.

"I questioned her what was on the dog tag and I knew it was mine," Farish says. "I didn't realize I had lost it."

Farish says he was stationed at Camp Kilmer in New Jersey in March 1943. He says at that time he went into New York City twice — for a Broadway show starring Milton Berle and a USO going-away party. Farish was getting ready to ship to North Africa because he "got tired of lying around in the States" and "wanted to fight."

The dog tag "meant a lot to me," Farish says. "It brought back a lot of memories 'cause I went to North Africa and into Sicily. I was with the Big Red One [Infantry Division]. We made the landing on D-Day on Omaha Beach in Normandy and went all through Europe and ended up the war in Czechoslovakia where we met up with the Russians."

Rector returned the tag to Farish. But she says she believes she wasn't the first one to pick it up over the years.

"We figured that somebody saw it, picked up, dropped it. Somebody else saw it, picked up, dropped it," she says.

Her boyfriend Tyska agrees: "It probably has a long story."

Farish says he's thankful Rector returned the tag.

"I have to admire Sydney," Farish says. "She's a very kind and patriotic person to recognize that. To get it back to me is very dear to my heart. Thank you, Sydney."

"Thank you, that's sweet, no problem," Rector says. "Me and my boyfriend were talking about it and it's like it cost us a phone call and a stamp, you know? It didn't take much physical energy or exertion at all."

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