Glenmora family finds Pennsylvania soldier’s WWII-era dog tag in front yard
GLENMORA, La. (KALB) - On a hot, summer day last week, Columbus Rhame powered up the lawnmower and went to cut the grass on his Glenmora property. Along the wood line, near his old garage, he spotted something shining in the dirt.
“I got down and picked it up and it was a dog tag,” he said. “When my wife got home, I handed it to her and she cleaned it up and found it was a person from Pennsylvania.”
The name on the dog tag was Harry F. Steding. It included an address and contact information for his wife in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - more than a thousand miles away.
“You would think, well how would it have gotten here?” he told us.
It was a good question. His wife, Amanda, was determined to find that out.
“I knew it was really old,” said Amanda. “It became a mystery to us.”
Amanda did what anyone would do in 2022 - headed to Google. She quickly tracked down Steding’s draft card. Steding joined the military at 20, back in 1941. That year was prime time for Camp Claiborne, and the area surrounding the Rhame’s Glenmora home was once a known spot for troops to march through.
“Long story short, he was from Pennsylvania and he was here training,” Amanda told us.
Amanda headed to Facebook, and that search led her to Steding’s granddaughter, who in turn placed a call to her mom, Suzettte, who lives in Chesterton, Indiana.
“She got a hold of me, she was all excited,” said Suzette Steding-Ball of her daughter’s phone call telling her that the dog tag had been found. “Somebody found grandpa’s dog tag! I’m like, what?”
Amanda and Suzette connected.
“We were like friends at the first phone call,” said Suzette of speaking with Amanda.
Suzette said her father served during World War II and ended up in India. Somewhere along the way, he made a stop at Camp Claiborne as part of a railroad battalion.
“I hear Camp Claiborne was known for special ops and railroading,” said Steding-Ball. “My father was a railroader.”
The railroad career lasted Steding the rest of his life once he returned home. He passed away in 1991. Suzette said she faintly remembers her mother mentioning something about a dog tag growing up. She thinks her father would have gotten a kick out of it being found 80 years later.
“He would be flipping,” she told us. “He would be like, oh my gosh.”
That dog tag is now in the mail heading home. And, Amanda and Suzette have developed a newfound friendship, one apparently 80 years in the making.
“It’s amazing how everything comes together,” said Amanda. “It’s all about love. It’s all about love.”
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