COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho-- A veterans group in North Idaho began searching for the owners of about 70 military dog tags displayed on the McEuen Park Freedom Tree after that tree was cut down in 2013.
Commemorative tags from various military branches were sold during a fundraiser and placed on the tree in the old McEuen Park. The group said returning the dog tags ten years later was a challenge because their owners could be anywhere in the world, dead or alive.
A woman with the Kootenai County Veterans Council said her friend took action after the tree was cut down in 2013.
“There was no ceremony or anything; it was just chopped down,” said Sandra Doutre. “So she picked up the dog tacks and they were turned into the Parks and Recreation for the City of Coeur d’Alene.”
Worried they could be lost forever, Doutre and her friends from the Veterans Council began trying to reunite the tags with their rightful owners.
“These are people that got gold stars, that got purple hearts,” she said. “All these special things.”
Even though the tags were donated by people in Kootenai County, they could belong to family members from any generation.
“It could be your grandpa from the Revolutionary War, so it really makes it difficult,” Doutre said. “That’s why it’s so hard to trace, because they aren’t necessarily from here in North Idaho.”
Doutre said only four people had come forward in May, but she hoped more would follow. She said the names on the tags represented a part of history that Americans could not afford to forget.
“Don’t lose this heritage because it’s there. It’s wonderful,” she said.
The City of Coeur d’Alene planned to replace the tree in the newly renovated McEuen Park, but there were no immediate plans to put the tags on the new tree.
Do you recognize any of the names on this list? Here are the veterans the group is still searching for:
Anderson, William R.
Bennett, William J.
Duhr, Vern P Sr.
Duncan, George H.
Fullmer, Frank G.
Green, J. Derek
Grondin, Chancie Joe
Hartman, Raymond G.
Johnson, Richy L.
Kaufman, Norbert N.
Kavanagh, John P.
Kenyon, Wallace E.
La Voie, Don.
Langford, James H.
Malloy, Leonard A.
Miller, George P.
Rogers, Steven A.
Smith, Laverne L.
Tessier, Darrell A.
Williams, Jack W.
Williams, Wilford R.
Wright, William J.