12-year-old boy finds, returns dog tags to family 46 years after Marine died

On an outing with his dad to celebrate July 4, Kolton Conrad, 12, found a dog tag on a beach. They then turned to Facebook to return it to its owner.

A father-son duo headed out on a kayaking trip last weekend, likely not expecting to find a family heirloom.

Kolton Conrad, 12, and his dad decided to celebrate July 4 with a “guys day out” on Hocking River, Ohio. It’s a trip they’ve taken before, the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette says.

For part of their trip, the two stopped at a beach to pick up trash, something they’ve done before to help out the environment. That was when Kolton saw something glimmering in the water — a dog tag.

It was dirty but still legible and read: “Rhonemus.”

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Ashley Scurlock-Conrad, Kolton’s mom, shared a photo of the cleaned dog tag on Facebook in hopes of returning it to its rightful owner.

“Rhonemus doesn’t seem like a very common name, so we thought it should be pretty easy to find who it belonged to,” she told the Gazette. “So we put it on Facebook, and within about six hours someone got in touch with us.”

“That woman put us in contact with Kimberly Greenlee, the dog tag’s owner’s sister. We knew we had to get the tag back to her, so we arranged to meet.”

Scurlock-Conrad updated the Facebook post with some fantastic news: they met with Greenlee at a park to return the dog tag to her.

Here is all the pictures from today! Meeting Steve’s Sister Kim at Rising Park ❤️I don’t know what I did ?! I went to…

Posted by Ashley Scurlock-Conrad on Sunday, July 5, 2020

As it turned out, the man named on the tag died 46 years earlier in a motorcycle crash.

In photos of the meet-up shared on social media, Kolton can be seen greeting Greenlee with a bouquet of flowers wrapped in American flag paper. In another, he hands her the dog tags and she embraces him.

Steven Rhonemus, Greenlee’s brother, served in the U.S. Marine Corps before he was discharged due to an injury. He died in 1974 after another injury in a motorcycle crash, the Gazette says.

“When my cousin, Wendy Pennington, called me about Ashley’s post, I could feel her excitement over the phone. She told me: ‘You’re not going to believe this,’ and I could just hear the disbelief,” Greenlee said. “She told me how Kolton found the dog tag, and I just said: ‘What?’

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“It’s just amazing to think about: this tag was lost for 46 years, and for this little boy to find it on Independence Day of all days.”

Greenlee gifted the item to her niece, Danielle, who never got to meet her father before he died in the bike crash.

Danielle had no physical memory of her father after a fire burned all of their family photo albums, she told the Gazette.

Now, she has a piece of her father in this dog tag.

“He was a brother, a protector. Everybody loved him. The first thing you’d hear about him if you said his name is ‘He was my brother.’ He was a good man,” Greenlee said. “I loved him and I can only imagine how my life would have been different if he had lived.”

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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