It has been 46 years since the death of the marine who wore the tag.
On July 4th, Kolton Conrad, age 12, discovered the dog tag while out kayaking with his father. When they were stopped to clean some garbage off a beach along Ohio’s Hocking River, Kolton saw something shining in the water. He soon realized that it was an old dog tag.
Kolton had a good feeling that it was a real tag because, as his mother Ashley told Barrett Lawlis at the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, “he is an avid history student” with “a passion for the armed forces.”
Luckily, the dog tag had the name “Rhonemus” upon it. The rarity of this surname meant that an internet search for its owner was straightforward:
Rhonemus doesn’t seem like a very common name, so we thought it should be pretty easy to find who it belonged to. 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.Ashley, Kolton’s mother
Kimberly Greenlee met them at a favourite place of her brother’s—Rising Park—for the touching presentation of the tag. She felt like Kolton was “meant” to find it, and she thought it was particularly remarkable that he found the tag on Independence Day.
Greenlee knew exactly what she wanted to do with the tag.
Danielle, the daughter of Greenlee’s former Marine brother, Steven Rhonemus, had never met her father. An injury had led to Steven Rhonemus’s discharge from the Marines, but it was injuries from a motorcycle accident that led to his death in 1974. Danielle had not yet been born.
Greenlee wanted to give the tag to her niece so that Danielle could have “a piece of her father.” It would be an especially significant remnant of the late Marine since photos and other keepsakes had burned in a fire not long after his death.
Danielle was emotional to receive the tag.
Greenlee was amazed at the kindness all the way through the chain of people involved in getting the tag up from the riverbank and into Danielle’s hands. Kolton and his family, Facebook user Crystal Potts who saw the post, and Greenlee’s cousin Wendy Pennington who made sure she heard about it—they were all “caring individuals.”
Greenlee remembered her brother with love:
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… I loved him, and I can only imagine how my life would have been different if he had lived.Kimberly Greenlee
Thinking about the eagle-eyed boy and his helpful family, she was full of thanks:
I just want to acknowledge Kolton and his family. We have so much gratefulness for them, from the bottom of our hearts. They were able to give us back a piece of my brother, and helped show respect to the military, the respect it deserves.Kimberly Greenlee
Article source: Lancaster Eagle-Gazette
Featured image source: Lancaster Eagle-Gazette