Miracle from a foxhole: after 66 years soldier's dog tags found and returned
May 29, 2010 at 12:29 a.m.
SHINER - Dorothy Glomb cradled the blue case in her hands, marveling at the treasures inside - a dog tag, a ring and a religious medal.
The items belonged to her late husband, Oscar Glomb, and were lost on an Italian hillside when he was wounded almost 66 years ago during World War II.
"I felt like it was a miracle," said the 85-year-old widow on receiving the items after all this time. "I just couldn't believe it. I guess prayers do get answered. It's kind of blown the family away. It was a blessing to us to get it back."
Dorothy said her husband had always talked about going back to Italy to find his dog tags and even made that trek in the early '90s with his older son, Steve Glomb, but had come up empty-handed.
Then in April, Steve, of Buda, received a phone call from Italy. Daniel Bianchini, retired police inspector and member of a metal detector club, had found dog tags with the name Oscar Glomb and Shiner, Texas on them.
Bianchini knew that finding two dog tags together was unusual because if a soldier was killed one tag was usually kept with the body and one sent to the family. So Bianchini used the Internet to search for Glombs in Texas.
Rob Glomb, 57, of Victoria, recalls the family's reaction.
"Totally amazing," he said. "If dad were alive today, he'd be so happy."
Oscar died in 1998 at 79.
"This is so important to the family," Rob continued. "The stories dad told us all started to come together and make sense. It means a lot to us to actually get them back and hold something we'd only heard stories about. It makes it even that more important to us."
Along with the dog tag - Bianchini kept one with the family's permission - a ring given to Oscar by his late sister, Lorene Marek, and a religious medal were also recovered.
Rob said his father had told them he was wounded by a German Tiger Tank, and according to an article in an Italian newspaper about the discovery, that same kind of tank was found not far from the hillside foxhole where the dog tags were unearthed.
Oscar was a member of the Texas National Guard, 36th Division, Company G, 143rd Infantry. They landed at Salerno, Italy in September 1943 and fought their way north, Rob said.
Oscar was wounded on June 22, 1944, and according to his medical records received two piercing wounds through the lower chest, perforating his liver, gall bladder and intestines. He was also wounded in the shoulder - the wound believed to have broken the dog tags chain - knee and wrist.
Those wounds sent Oscar to the Army hospital in Longview, where his future wife was a Post Exchange worker.
"I would go around to the wards for those who were unable go to the main exchange," said Dorothy. "We just hit it off."
The Glombs were married for more than 53 years when Oscar died.
While in the Longview hospital, Oscar was awarded the Bronze Star for actions he took only four days before being wounded. The official citation credits him with killing 12 German soldiers that day, though in the story he told his family, he said he killed 18.
"Dad was a patriot," Rob said. "His service inspired Steve and I to both join the military."
Steve served in the Marines and Rob in the Navy, both during the Vietnam War era.
After returning to Shiner, Oscar worked as an appliance repairman, tried his hand at raising chickens and was a substitute mail carrier. He eventually became a full-time mailman and put in 41 years with the post office before retiring at 70.
Dorothy said she's not sure how her late husband would have reacted he had been alive when the dog tags were found.
"I don't think his old heart could have taken it. He would have been so excited," she said.
For Bianchini, as detailed in an e-mail to Steve, it was an honor to return the items.
Bianchini wrote, "This will be my gesture as well as a civic duty also and above all a gesture of thanks (to) Oscar (and) to all American soldiers during World War II (who) fought in Italy in order to crush a dictatorship and give us the longed-for freedom and democracy we enjoy today...."
Dorothy is grateful, too.
"It's wonderful that someone would take the time to do this," she said. "To me, it brings a closure to what he wanted."