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Heavy Rain in Texas Unearths Dog Tags from WWII Veteran

A metal embossing machine is used to make ID tags at the Soldier Readiness Processing building at Fort Knox, Kentucky. (US Army photo)
A metal embossing machine is used to make ID tags at the Soldier Readiness Processing building at Fort Knox, Kentucky. (US Army photo)

WICHITA FALLS, Texas — Sixty years ago a child buried treasure in the backyard of David Harmon's house on Ninth Street.

It took heavy rain to reveal it. The small piece of metal Harmon discovered was World War II veteran Clarence Massey's Army dog tag.

"I knew it was somebody's hero," Harmon said. "It brought tears to my eyes."

The Wichita Falls Times Record News reports Harmon set out to find the Massey family, turning to Veterans Affairs, Veterans of Foreign Wars and other sources. When things got challenging, his 10-year-old son Landon encouraged him

"Landon didn't let it go," David Harmon said, eyes brimming with pride. "He told me 'Dad, we're gonna return that'."

After a Google search turned up two local Massey families, David Harmon began making calls. A voice message was returned by Clarence Massey's daughter, Gay Williams, on Memorial Day.

Williams was quick to visit David Harmon at the home where decades ago she, brothers Steve, David, Scott and sister Carol spent part of their childhood. David Harmon soon visited Mary Ann Massey, Clarence's widow, intent on returning the dog tag in person.

"David went to a lot of trouble to find out something about Clarence," Mary Ann Massey said. Her husband was decorated for Army artillery service.

"I'll always appreciate the time and effort David and Landon went to bringing this back to me," she said.

Raised by his grandparents, David Harmon's grandfather J.R. Holcomb was an Army captain during World War II. He feels a strong connection to the Greatest Generation.

"We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for so many who died to keep us safe," David Harmon said. "I knew Mr. Massey was a good person. Returning the tag was the right thing to do. It was meant to be."

Asked what would become of Clarence's dog tag, Mary Ann Massey was sure.

"I'll keep it close to my heart," she said. "It will go in my treasure box."

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