COMMERCE — For 70 years, Alvin Krumrey had given little thought to his military dog tag that was lost in the jungles of Guadalcanal during World War II.
Wednesday, Krumrey stood upright in front 45 relatives and friends as Army Capt. Matthew R. Wimmer placed the dog tag back in the veteran's trembling hands.
“I don't remember losing it,” said Krumrey, 91.
The metal tag, carrying Krumrey's military identification information, traveled across the world to return to him.
“I can still quote my number — 38190284,” said Krumrey, who was a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps. The Air Corps was a predecessor of the U.S. Air Force.
Krumrey's rank was T5, equivalent to a corporal. He served in the 13th Air Force Division in the South and Southwest Pacific.
“We use to say 13 was a lucky number,” Krumrey said. “We would make a practice of walking under ladders and other silly stuff like that.”
Originally, from Seneca, Mo., he was sent overseas in 1943.
“We were stationed just below the equator — the hottest part of the world,” Krumrey said. “It was all jungle, but there was a place cleared out for a landing field and a place for our tents.”
He might have lost his dog tag while bathing in the jungle river, but he's not sure.
“I plan on putting it into a drawer and just keeping it there,” Krumrey said.
“The dog tag is in outstanding shape,” said Roy Woods, a retired U.S. Navy master chief petty officer, who helped organize the ceremony. “It has some wear and a couple of pinholes, but the lettering is clear.”
Woods said the dog tag was spotted last year in a rare coin store in the Solomon Islands.
The owners purchased it from a Guadalcanal islander and took it home to Australia, he said. Because of the military significance, they began searching for its rightful owner, Woods said.
A Florida military historian discovered Krumrey had enlisted in Tulsa and after several phone calls, the tag was on its way to Krumrey, he said.
“He was choked up during the ceremony,” Woods said. “His family was so proud of him. He is very sharp and witty and has a good memory.”