February 24, 2006

After Three Decades, Dog Tags Come Home

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“35 years is a long time to wait,” said Franklin Crawford at a ceremony honoring his brother Douglas Crawford, a soldier who died in the Vietnam War on February 23, 1971.

35 years after Crawford’s ID tags went missing, they were discovered in July 2005. Yesterday, the Cornell ROTC held a ceremony in the Military Museum to return Crawford’s tags to his remaining immediate kin: his brother Franklin and his sister Roberta.

Douglas Crawford was but 20 years old when he was drafted for the Vietnam War from his home in Bay Shore, Long Island. Shortly after entering the 7th Battalion, 8th Artillery Regiment, Crawford was killed at an American artillery base in South Vietnam’s Tay Ninh province, near the Cambodian border. He died a month before his 21st birthday.

For Franklin and Roberta, the homecoming of their brother’s dog tags offered a sense of closure. The intimate ceremony allowed family, friends and war veterans to pay tribute to Crawford’s bravery and sacrifice.

“I met Franklin in December,” said Maj. Rich Brown, a Cornell ROTC operations officer. “He wanted to take pictures of the museum, and while he was here he told me that his brother lost his dog tags.”

Brown promised Crawford he would assist in the investigation immediately after returning from winter recess. Coincidentally, an Army genealogist discovered the tags in a file belonging to the deceased in Washington, D.C. and contacted Franklin and Roberta.

“We received a letter