Geocacher Finds a Veteran’s Lost Dog Tags – 25 Years Later

“Stranger still is what I found on my way into the location. I found hanging from a tree an authentic set of military dog tags.”

– Kelley Piekarek

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Found while searching for “1415 Challenge” outside Ann Arbor, Michigan

Kelley Piekarek geocached in the northern U.S. state of Michigan in the ice cold of winter. That’s an act of bravery that might warrant its own story. But on January 6, Kelley came out of the snowy woods around Ann Arbor with more than a geocache find. As she tromped to the location of the hidden geocache container, she caught the flash of metal in a low tree. Kelley thought it might be a Geocaching game piece called a Travel BugⓇ. The game pieces resemble dog tags. But she soon recognized them as a weathered pair of real military dog tags.

“It honestly looked like the small tree had grown up through the chain, it was that twisted in.” Kelley said.

Kelley in January of this year

Kelley in January

Holding those dog tags in her hands, she made a decision. She’d find their owner, Raymond Morin. Kelley said, “First I contacted the Armory at the recommendation of a fellow Geocacher on Facebook. They were only able to tell me he was not dead.” Kelley kept asking questions. She placed a call Veteran’s Affairs. They were unable to help. A Wisconsin lead fizzled. Facebook didn’t lead anywhere.

Then, Kelley got a break, “I searched the online White Pages and found a person of this name lived in a town nearby. I called the number and spoke to Harry Morin, Raymond’s dad and he told me that yes, his son was in the military and his penchant for wandering in the woods.”

Raymond's lost dog tags

Raymond’s lost dog tags

Raymond’s parents said he’s lived in a group home for the past twelve years. They met at the home. Almost as soon as Kelley walked in the door she was able to place the dog tags into Raymond’s hands.

She said the search to find Raymond mirrored geocaching, “It was really an uplifting experience. This whole thing has been a lot like a puzzle cache-but in reverse-where I found the cache and then had to find the owner, following few clues. He and his parents were very gracious and appreciative.”

Look at these three pictures, as the exchange happened. 

Kelley meets Raymond

Kelley meets Raymond

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Grateful hugs are exchanged

Selfie with dog tags

Selfie with dog tags

“…they believe he lost the tags about 25 years ago.”

They discovered the tags were lost for more than two decades. Kelley said, “They discussed it and they believe he lost the tags about 25 years ago. He remembers setting them down when he was walking in the woods when he first was getting sick but could not find them again. Apparently he lived only a mile or so away from where I found the tags.”

And Kelley was ready to act when she found those tags. Being an everyday hero has been part of her life.

I-AM-THAT-HERO

Each geocacher chooses a username. Kelley chose her’s when she started geocaching in 2006. She wanted that name to inspire her young children, to teach them an important lesson. That lesson she says, “Live your life as an example to others of ‘a good person.’ Someone who loves others and respects themselves, does good for the community and asks nothing in return. Thinks of others first and encourages learning in all its aspects.”

Kelley’s Geocaching username name is I-AM-THAT-HERO. Kelley says, “I believe kids need to see more ordinary hero’s So ‘I am that hero’ to my kids.”

And now she’s that quiet hero to a veteran, his family and so many more.

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Raymond was honorably discharged from the military in 1984

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Raymond wearing his dog tags

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