Dog tags returned after more than 20 years

Submitted Former Portsmouth resident Matt Piquet woke up Tuesday to this photo, a photo of his dad’s dog tags, the first site he had seen of the dog tags in 20 years.

By Nikki Blankenship

Life can be beautifully unexpected, often leaving people mystified by its surprises.

Matt Piquet, former Portsmouth resident, woke up in his home in Cleveland on Tuesday, expecting it to be like any other day. He was eating some cereal for breakfast and decided to scroll through Facebook, like so many people do as part of their morning routine. However, this was an exceptional Tuesday. That scroll through his newsfeed ended up being a reconnection with a lost heirloom.

As a child, Piquet grew up going to school, running the sidewalks with friends and even went to college in Portsmouth. After college in 2001, Piquet moved to Mason and then to Cleveland, holding on to parts of his roots but leaving quite a bit behind as well.

When Piquet was very young, he lost his father Bill.

Bill was a sergeant of the U.S. Air Force, who died in 1980. His young son inherited his flag and dog tags and held onto them throughout his life. When Matt got his first car, he hung the dog tags around his rear view mirror, so he could keep something of his father near him at all times. One day in 1997, he walked out of his little, white cottage home on 3rd and Waller and headed to Shawnee State University, where he was attending college. As he approached his car, he could see that his window had been busted out. Closer inspection revealed that his car had been broken into, and several items were missing including his radio, a jacket and his father’s dog tags.

Matt said he filed a police report in order to get the damage to his car covered through insurance, but he never expected to see any of his stolen property again, especially not the dog tags.

“I figured they grabbed them, didn’t know what they were, realized they weren’t worth anything and tossed them,” Matt commented.

Then, 20 years later, he wakes up to photos of the dog tags being sent to him on Facebook.

“Are you kidding me?” Matt remembers as his first thought. “That’s crazy!”

His father’s dog tags had been found thanks to a glisten in some garbage and a curious but caring Portsmouth resident Molly Jarrells.

“I was taking some trash out Monday and saw something laying on the ground,” Jarrells explained. “After fishing it out of leaves and debris, I noticed it was dog tags.”

Jarrells found the dog tags in the alley behind her house on High Street, a part of Portsmouth where Matt had never lived.

Assuming the item was probably important to someone, Jarrells took the dog tags in her house, cleaned them up and posted a photo of them on Facebook, hoping the post would make it to the owner.

“I just felt like it was the right thing to do,” Jarrells stated.

She posted the photo of the tags Monday afternoon. By the time Matt woke up Tuesday, he had messages about the post and had been tagged in comments on the original post, which had been shared more than 40 times.

“It was overwhelming,” Matt said. “I was in disbelief.”

He added that he was very emotional at first. Matt was happy the dog tags had been found and grateful that someone would take the time to find their owner but also amazed that they would find their way back after being gone for so long.

“I feel very blessed to have found the dog tags that belong to Mr. Piquet, and I am overjoyed that I can return them to his son Matt,” Jarrells commented.

Because he lives out of town, Jarrells sent the dog tags to Matt in the mail. She sent them out on Tuesday, and he is expecting to be reunited with them any day.

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1930.

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1930.