WENDELL, N.C. --World War II veteran Bennie Howard Jr., a Wendell native, never thought he'd see the dog tags he lost more than 70 years ago while serving overseas. Thanks to an Italian man using a metal detector, the piece of history is back in Howard's possession.
At just 19 years old, Howard lost the dog tags on an Italian beach while in the Army. Howard got new dog tags, and thought his original ones were gone forever. Fast forward 73 years later, Italian Jury Galli found the dog tags on a beach near his Pisa home with his metal detector.
Wendell is imprinted on the tags and Galli went on Facebook and contacted town officials to see if they could help track down the 92-year-old Wendell native.
Officials at the Town of Wendell were able to locate Howard. While Galli knew he could just mail the dog tags back to Howard, he wanted to meet the veteran. On his own dime, Galli flew here to the Triangle and the Town of Wendell honored the two at the Fourth of July celebration.
Howard can't believe the steps Galli took to get the dog tags back to him and says he's thankful for the young man's efforts. Galli doesn't speak much English but said reuniting Howard with his dog tags was a beautiful moment and one he will remember for the rest of his life.
Besides thanking Galli, Howard also was overwhelmed with the support from the Town of Wendell, "People have been so nice and they all thanked us for what we did."