A long-lost Vietnam-era dog tag was returned on 19 November to Sergeant Donald P. Winterhalter at a casual ceremony at Chrysanthi’s Restaurant, at 204 Route 13, Brookline, NH 03033. The dog tag was found in Vietnam in 1987, and was finally be returned to its rightful owner with the help of the nonprofit organization Purple Hearts Reunited. This ceremony is open to the public and media.
Sergeant (SGT) Donald “Don” P. Winterhalter (SN: 51730136) was born in 1946 in Newton, Massachusetts. After school, he volunteered for the draft in 1968 and found himself in the U.S. Army and assigned to the famous 82nd Airborne Division. He arrived in Vietnam in April 1969 and served as an Infantryman and Platoon Sergeant. He spent nine months in Vietnam, April to December of 1969, specifically operating in the Saigon Peninsula. When he saw a picture of his lost dog tag, he knew it was his because the blood type listed is incorrect. He remembers clearly being issued those tags with that specific mistake.
Dinh “Dean” Vu was born in 1982 in Saigon, Vietnam. At the age of five, he was playing in his backyard with his brother-in-law, Huy Tran, when they found an American dog tag. Vu’s mother-in-law frequently bought old American uniforms leftover from the Vietnam War and used them to make luggage and handbags. The family is unsure whether the dog tag was in a pocket of one of these old uniforms or simply left behind in their back yard. Both Vu and Tran knew this specific dog tag was special and held onto it throughout their lives. Three years ago, Vu traveled back to Vietnam to visit with family. During his visit, Vu and Tran were reminiscing about the tag they found so many years ago and Tran passed the tag on to Vu to bring home to America in the hopes of finding its owner. He brought it back to his home in Williston, VT and ran into his neighbor, Don Edwards. Edwards is a Vietnam Veteran and member of the local Combat Veteran Motorcycle Association (CVMA), and has worked with Purple Hearts Reunited in the past.
This dog tag traveled thousands of miles to return home to its rightful owner and Vu, Edwards, and Winterhalter all live within a few hours of each other.
The return was sponsored in part by a grant from the Purple Heart Foundation.