The dog tags of a Vietnam veteran have been returned to his surviving family thanks to a chance encounter.
United States Marine Corps Corporal Larry Hughes lost his dog tag in 1966 while serving his country near the Da Nang Province in Vietnam.
Flash forward to October 2022, when former Virginia Senator Jim Webb and Notre Dame Professor Michael Desch took a group of students to visit the province. While exploring an area near an airstrip used by the U.S. military, a villager approached them. The villager said that he had found six dog tags of American soldiers while plowing rice fields over the years.
Desch explained, “He said, ‘Oh, by the way, I have six dog tags that we found over the years plowing is rice fields.’ And he had one on his keychain. And I asked if we could bring it back.”
Webb – who is also a former Navy secretary – reacted by saying, “I was like, ‘We need to find this person.’ It’s so symbolic.”
Webb did some research and found out that Corporal Hughes had died. However, his son and sister were alive in Inglis, Florida.
On Friday, the Pentagon delivered the long-lost dog tag to the family.
Hughes’ sister Patricia Hughes Prickett told WTVT, “I couldn’t believe it. It was like a step back in time.”
“I was always so proud of Larry,” Prickett added. “There was never a moment when I was not proud of him. And I’m just glad that he’s been recognized.”
Hughes’ son Carl Hughes said of his dad, “He was very humble. He never talked about his time in the service.”
Prickett believes that Hughes didn’t talk about his military service because many people didn’t appreciate the sacrifices he made.
“That means the world, and the Vietnam vets are getting recognition that they didn’t get before,” Prickett said.
Hughes reflected on how incredible it was to receive the cherished memento back from a place that was formerly an enemy territory.
“The two sides hated each other, and look how they come together now that how quickly you can build that friendship, that bond,” Carl Hughes said. “And that’s what the world needs, is everybody can get along and love each other.”
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