More than 71 years after he was shot and killed on Okinawa, the dog tags of U.S. Army Pfc. Thomas E. Davis are finally coming home.
After finding Davis' dog tag in Okinawa in 2014, Kuentai-USA, a Japanese nonprofit, plans to reunite it with his family.
Ray Alan Priest, 58, said his brother, Thomas Davis, 58, who is named after their uncle, will travel from Victoria to Roachdale, Ind., to retrieve the dog tag in late March. Both brothers are Victoria residents. The remains of Thomas E. Davis are buried in a cemetery near Roachdale.
"He was tall and thin with bright blue eyes," said Thomas E. Davis' younger sister, Dorothy Hollingsworth, 82, of Beavercreek, Ohio. "He called me Sis."
Family members of Davis still tell stories about the young man.
They remember his strength.
"He was the only one big enough and with the right disposition to get the mule team to work," Priest said. "When he was gone, they just sold the team."
And they remember his good nature and constant laughter.
"He was a kidder. In my mind I picture him in the bib overalls, working on the farm because that's who he was for almost all of his life," Priest said. "Then, for a short period of his life, he had to be a soldier."
But because of national security and the resulting communications limitations between soldiers and their families, they have only pieces of his last days and months.
For years, they never knew on which island he had been killed.
Now, they know he was killed on Okinawa in 1945.
They know he was shot and killed by a Japanese soldier. And that a friend, who witnessed his death, in turn, killed the man who had shot Davis.
They know he was awarded the Silver Star for carrying a wounded American to safety on Saipan.
And with the return of his dog tag, they will have another piece to his story.
Priest said although neither he nor his children ever met Davis, the memories and stories of his uncle are family heirlooms.
"Kids (should) know their genealogy and know where they are from and have stories about family," he said. "It's more of a connection to life. They know they belong to something. I know it makes me feel that way."