The lost dog tag

In early September, Mike Stojak (former post commander) received a call at the Huntley American Legion from Jim Elam (Army veteran) from Blythe, Calif. Elam would go out hiking in the former military training area called Palen Pass Maneuver Area. This is the area where 7 armored divisions and 13 infantry divisions did 13 weeks of desert training preparing for World War II (1942–1944). Over 1 million men trained in this desert environment. About 2 years ago, Elam purchased a metal detector and would scan some of these desert areas during his hike. He found a dog tag for Christian Suhr (US Army Air Corps) from Hampshire, Ill., and contacted the Huntley American Legion, which was the closest military organization to Hampshire. He wanted help identifying any members of the Suhr family. Mike took down Elam’s information and said he would investigate and get back to him. Mike started by asking around in Hampshire, and he found a longtime resident who was familiar with the Suhr family. This resident said they would see if they could find someone to contact. They eventually got back to Mike saying that Christian’s son, James Suhr, was a firefighter living in Kirkland, Ill., about 20 miles west of Hampshire, and provided James with Mike's contact information. James Suhr called Mike and had a wonderful conversation about him and his father. James was incredibly pleased to hear about his dad’s dog tag being found. The working theory is that Christian Suhr must have broken the chain that had his dog tags while in desert training.

James kept a shadow box of his father’s military burial flag along with the matching dog tag of the one found at Palen Pass Maneuver Area. James also had his dad’s military awards, including a Purple Heart and a newspaper article citing commendation by Lt. Gen. James H. Doolittle for Christian Suhr’s extraordinary heroism as part of the P-47 Thunderbolt Group. James Suhr showed pictures of this to Mike and shared his heartfelt thanks for returning the lost dog tag. James’ father, Christian Suhr, had passed away in 1968 when James was only 17. His father died in an automobile accident, so he never got a chance to talk to his father about his military service. He was so grateful to have his father’s dog tag.

A few weeks after mailing Christian Suhr’s dog tag, Elam found the second dog tag belonging to Christian Suhr and mailed it to James Suhr. Elam has found dog tags from 3 other individuals as well.

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