Sangin, Afghanistan – Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Richard Erfurth, a corpsman assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, was cleaning out a storage trailer used by the battalion aid station when he came upon something he knew was special.
At the bottom of an ammo can that was stuffed with random care package items like toothbrushes, lip balm and snacks, he spotted what looked like a very personal item – a steel plate about the size of a silver dollar on a brass ball chain.
“I knew we hadn’t had these dog tags since the 1940s,” said Erfurth, who took the tag with him to the internet café and started researching the name on the plate
Frederick E. Conelly, as it turned out, died 14 years ago, according to the first family Erfurth found and called after looking his name up at ZabaSearch.com.
But Conelly’s grandson, Cpl. Dawson Webb, is very much alive and had misplaced the tag while he was in Sangin on his last deployment with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, the unit that was here before 1/5.
Webb, who is stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif., happened to be on leave at his aunt’s house in Arizona when Erfurth’s call came in.
“He sounded kind of groggy, like I had woken him up. I forgot it was like six in the morning out there,” said Erfurth, who recalled Webb’s reaction: “He said something like ‘you’re [freakin’] kidding me, no [way].’”
Erfurth is the kind of guy who likes to get to the bottom of things, but this time it felt especially important.
“I thought, it meant something to somebody,” Erfurth said