Memories of WWII Vet Ed McCarron and the Dog Tag He was Recently Reunited With

WWII veteran Ed McCarron got reunited with the dog tag he had lost somewhere in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands during the Second World War. Know the incredible story of this man and the person who made the reunion possible.

Ed McCarron is almost 90 years old and suffers from failing eyesight and hearing. What’s more, the once active man is confined now to the four corners of his Florida home as he has lost strength to move and even drive himself to town. A phone call from his daughter…listening to Pavarotti on tape…watching “Jeopardy” in some nights…that is how his day goes by.

However, when late September rolled in, Ed McCarron became the recipient of a very surprising package that stirred so many memories — memories he have had some seven decades ago.

The package was from a person he did not know and was continents away. Unable to read, he had asked a neighbor to read the four-paged letter which accompanied the parcel. At the end, the eyes of the WWII veteran brimmed with tears.

Stirring Strong Memories

Ed McCarron went to a school ran by nuns in his younger days. The sisters described him as someone who did not have his head on his shoulders. Dropping out of school at 16, Ed McCarron took a job as a dishwasher in Greater Boston as a means to help his family. Then, the attack on Pearl Harbor happened.

Ed wanted to join the army so he did what he thought was best to do to achieve that. he lied to his mother just so she would sign the forms he needed for enlistment. He told her that the US Army wouldn’t send someone as young as him in the middle of WWII.

But nine months later, Ed McCarron was shipped to Guadalcanal in the Solomon islands. By that time, he was a Marine Private First Class serving with the 11th Regiment.

Aside from plodding through the jungles of Guadalcanal and hiding from the bombs the enemy hauled at them in every opportunity they could get, Ed McCarron lugged and assembled artillery field machines as well as jammed shells, measuring up to three inches, into the Pack Howitzer.

While in service, he went through 24 bouts of malaria and even spent his 18th birthday in a Melbourne Hospital where he suffered from an ulcer in his shin which disabled his walking abilities.

Troop reinforcements came and by 1944, Ed McCarron was able to return to the United States after three years in the jungle of Solomon Islands.

Talking about his war experiences, the WWII vet insisted that he was no hero. The real heroes were the ones left in the jungle — the soldiers who sacrificed their lives so the battle could be won.

On the Other Side of the Globe…

The year was 2003 and Jade Hood of the Australian Federal Police was in the Solomon Islands. She was part of the team deployed there to help extinguish the civil unrest brewing in the area. She was heading to a creek to clean her boots when she saw a local selling dog tags. The police force had forbidden the deployed team from having memorabilia but Jade felt that if she leave Solomon Islands without any of the tags, she would be betraying the heroes who left them behind.

A military history student with a family background dedicated to military service, Jade had spent her free time understanding WWII while roaming through the islands. She even went as far as exploring foxholes dug by soldiers long ago and are now littered with old shell casings as well as going through the craters the bombs some seventy years or so ago created.

She felt a connection with the soldiers who fought in these islands during the Second World War. She was also worried that their stories of hardships and sacrifices are getting lost to the present generations and will eventually fade away in the future.

She already discovered one dog tag on dirt while she was traversing near an airfield. And as she couldn’t stop herself, she bought another two from that local — tags that were reminders of the ones whose names were engraved on them and the place where they were found.

After the War

Ed McCarron returned to being a civilian after WWII ended. He went from job to job — driving trucks, being a Chevrolet salesman, spending nights as a dispatcher for limousine drivers. When 1987 came, he retired and moved to New Port Richey with his wife, Audrey.

Audrey died in January and Ed Mccarron had been counting the days ever since.

Talking about it, he said he just couldn’t get over the reality that his wife already left him permanently. As a matter of fact, the bedroom they once shared still has traces of the woman he loves. Spread on one of the pillows is a pink shirt with the print “A Marine’s Wife”. A smiling framed photo of her can also be seen on the dresser.

Ed McCarron still calls Audrey his beautiful girl.

The Search for the Dog Tag Owners

Former Marine and WWII vet Ed McCarron
Former Marine and WWII vet Ed McCarron

Meanwhile, Jade Hood had tried to return the three dog tags with her during the first year. She sent several emails to the Marine Corps but they went unanswered.

Summer this year, Jade went on a trip to England where she met an American couple willing to help her return the dog tags to their respective owners after telling them her story.

71-year-old Jim York was able to track down the owners of the first two dog tags easily. One went to the family of the WWII vet who owned it while the other was returned to the widow.

The last one as of Edward T. McCarron — it was Ed’s.

Jade Hood was so excited when she found out that the owner of the third dog tag was 89-year-old WWII vet living in New Port Richey and that he was still alive.

She recounted how she nearly fell over when she found out that Ed McCarron was living and had wanted to jump in the nearest plane, fly to his home just so she could shake his hands.

Jim York went on to call Ed McCarron to see if he was the right person they were looking for. Ed, at first, suspected a scam but when Jim explained everything, he said that he would wait for the package.

When the package did arrive to his home from Queensland, Australia, Ed McCarron couldn’t contain his praises for Jade Hood. He said he couldn’t still understand what prompted the woman to go through all the trouble just so he could have this piece of metal back knowing that both of them never knew or met each other. he concluded by saying that Jade must be really a beautiful person.

It turned out that the dog tag Jade Hood had with his name engraved on it was a replacement tag Ed McCarron never wore during his stay in Guadalcanal. However, that small fact did not matter to the WWII vet.

He now keeps it in his key chain, just one of the many war keepsakes found in his home along with a model of the USS Arizona, badges and medals he contained in a box and his dusty uniform jacket.

They remind him of his bold sixteen-year-old self and the four years he spent in the war — how that conflict stretched through continents and through generations.

Heziel Pitogo

Heziel Pitogo is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE