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A Bismarck man who served in New Guinea during World War II has been reunited with a dog tag he lost there about 75 years ago, thanks to a stranger digging a hole in the ground.

“I was surprised because I had never seen it from the time I lost it and they found it,” said Ed Boger, who is now 97.

Five years ago, Kenneth Muo volunteered to dig a hole to place a flagpole for a rural school in Lemieng village in Papua New Guinea. He found a dirty, rusted dog tag that belonged to Boger. Muo knew that only American soldiers wore dog tags, and he felt the need to return it.

He posted on Facebook in World War II groups and established contacts for years until last September he finally made contact with Charles Boger, Ed’s son.

Charles surprised Ed with the old dog tag in June after it came in the mail.

“He got all choked up and emotional about it,” Charles said.

Muo was surprised that Ed was still alive and wrote a letter to accompany the tag, saying, "I am so proud of myself I was able to get this tag to you."

The process of finding the owner of the dog tag was long and complicated. A man in the National Guard in Wisconsin saw an internet post about it, found the obituary of Ed’s brother and was able to contact Charles' cousin.

The guardsman "decided to take it upon himself and reach out to try and find (the owner),” Charles said.

Ed Boger, originally from Garrison, was deployed on his 21st birthday in October 1942. He fought with the 112th Calvary Regiment of the Texas Army National Guard and spent more than three years in the Pacific. After the war ended in 1945, he was discharged from the military and never returned to New Guinea.  

“That was enough,” he said.

Boger fought in the Battle of Driniumor River, which lasted 45 days and nights, and he figures that's where he lost the tag.

“We were scheduled to go into New Guinea when the (Japanese) started taking over the schools ... they were after the schools, and I was in what we call a regimental combat team and it was scheduled to go over there to stop (them),” Ed said.

He doesn't remember losing the tag.

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“I was happy they found it,” he said.

Muo in his letter said the area used to be an old U.S. Army base that over time has been overtaken by jungle. The area still has aircraft guns and old fighter planes.

“I thought I would find some skeletons around that place because there were many bullet shells, mostly .50-calibre shells,” Muo said. Instead, about 50 yards away from the base, Muo found the rusted dog tag, which had Boger's hometown and mother's name.

After he was discharged, Ed never talked about the war to others until about half a dozen years ago.

“Growing up we never heard anything about it,” Charles said.

“There was no need to talk to people because they wouldn’t understand,” Ed said. “They have no idea what a war is like.”

Ed was appreciative of Muo taking the time to return the dog tag to him.

“I want to go see him (Muo),” he said. “I’d give every penny if I got to go talk to him.”

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