Jury Galli concentrated hard on the beeps from his metal detector. He was sweeping the beach near his home in Pisa, Italy when suddenly the beeps indicated something under the sand. Digging down Juri found a set of old military dog tags.
Brushing off the sand, he could clearly read the inscription giving the name and place of birth of the original owner. Juri held the old tags in his hand and decided that he was going to try and find the owner of the tags and return them to him.
The town of Wendell was punched into the metal, so he contacted the city fathers via Facebook and asked them to try and find the owner of the tags. They came back to say that Bennie Howard Jr., aged 92, was still alive and living in Wendell. Rather than simply posting the tags back, Juri climbed on a plane and brought them back in person.
Bennie, then a 19-year-old grunt, had lost his tags whilst landing on that Italian beach over 70 years ago and never thought that he would ever see them again. Bennie was astounded at the lengths that Juri went to, to get the tags back to him and though Juri’s English was poor he managed to convey how touched he was when he could return the tags to their rightful owner.
Juri and Bennie were the guests of honour at the town’s 4th July celebration. Both men were overwhelmed by the reception they were given, “People have been so nice and they all thanked us for what we did,” said Bennie.