Last June a cousin of Linda’s got a message, out of the blue, on Facebook.
Hi Mate, my name is Tim Hill from Yeppoon, Queensland Australia.
I am part of a group that detect and reunite WW2 dog tags that are found around Rockhampton Qld.
One of the latest tags was for a Henry Goldfine service number ########
His brother was Abe, siblings were Erwin, Manley and Sandra. I believe Henry’s wife was Irene.
Would this by any chance be your uncle. We would love to reunite that with family where it belongs.
Just so you know we are fair dinkum please have a look at my Facebook page.
American WW2 dog tags via Australia and back home again.
Thanks for any help.
I am embarrassed to say that our first thought was this was some sort of scam. But, after a bit of back and forth we gave him an address to send the dog tag to, and sure enough, he sent the tag as promised, without even a request for postage, renewing my faith in the innate decency of human beings (which would be renewed again and again during our trip to Australia).
In October we were in Queensland, and since we would be driving right past Yeppoon on our way south from Port Douglas, we decided it would be nice to meet Tim and thank him personally. We would find a place to stay in Yeppoon and take him and his wife out to dinner.
But Tim would have nothing to do with that. He invited us to stay with them, and we did. He and Donna are really lovely people, and we had a delightful evening with them.
But it was the next day that was amazing. Tim hadn’t been the one to find the tag: it was his associate, Anthony, and they wanted to show us around the former American camp, and especially where the tag was found.
So the next morning we packed up and followed Tim to the site of the former camp were we met Anthony, dressed in a WWII uniform, who took us on the tour of the site.
It turns out Linda’s father discarded his tag because before he shipped out (to New Guinea we think), he was issued a new one — one without the next of kin on it, so if a soldier was captured, the Japanese would not be able to communicate to the next of kin and offer payment options for better treatment.
We drove around the 300-acre camp, tramped through the bush, and saw the artifacts that remained. But the most poignant part was when they showed us the place where the tag was found.
Needless to say, it was an emotional time for Linda: she was actually sharing some part of her father’s past, making it an experience we will never forget. And what made it even more poignant was we were there on the 25th anniversary of her father’s death. But more than that, here were two people, who out of the goodness of their hearts, want to reunite the families of American soldiers stationed in Australia with a part of their past, and in one case a soldier himself (Tim actually flew to Portland to meet a 94-year-old veteran and give him back his tag personally). In Linda’s words to Tim and Anthony “Your passion and sincerity really shows, and I am sure you have made a lot of families very happy. I only wish that everyone in the world could know what you are doing—it would make for a better world. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
It is heart warming to be reminded once again that despite the attempts of politicians to push their agendas by stoking the fires of xenophobic hatred, people around the world, to one extent or another, are almost always kind and generous.