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Norwood family receives family member’s World War II dog tag

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NORWOOD - A casual walk along the shores of Lake Ontario unearthed a find that is being treasured by a Norwood family.

A dog tag that belonged to World War II veteran Charles E. Sherman was one of several that was found by a person walking along Lake Ontario near Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown, 312 miles away from Norwood.

The battered, but legible dog tag, which is now in the possession of James and Bernadette Sherman, Norwood-Knapp Station Road, Norwood, lists the military man’s name, service number and name and address of his next of kin in Norwood.

The Shermans received the dog tag in Monday’s mail, along with a letter from Clyde L. Burmaster, vice chairman of the Niagara County Legislature, who was trying to track down the family after another person walking near Old Fort Niagara had found seven or eight dog tags from both World War I and World War II. The tags from World War I were illegible, but two of the World War II dog tags could still be read.

The site had been used as a training post and prisoner of war camp during World War II and is now a historical site, according to Mr. Burmaster, who is also a retired private investigator.

Mrs. Sherman said she first learned about the dog tag when she received a call from a Charles Sherman in Parishville. He had been contacted by Mr. Burmaster, who believed he might be a relative.

She called Mr. Burmaster and left a message. When he returned Mrs. Sherman’s call, they were able to talk about how the dog tag had been found a few weeks ago.

“A friend does a daily walk along Lake Ontario on the grounds of Old Fort Niagara and a few weeks ago found the dog tags. Some were from World War II and two were from World War I, and only two were legible,” she said.

One of those belonged to Charles E. Sherman, listing a next of kin of G.W. (George Washington) Sherman, Route 2, Norwood.

“What are the chances of something that miniscule being found on a beach?” she wondered.

“That dog tag has been on a seven-year journey. There were over 10 million U.S. veterans during World War II .There were truly millions of dog tags,” said Tony Nocerino, Mr. Sherman’s son-in-law and village of Norwood historian.

Mrs. Sherman, sensing that the dog tag belonged to her brother based on the description, asked Mr. Burmaster to send it to her, along with a narrative about how it was found.

“It was so nice of him to do that,” she said.

In his letter, Mr. Burman suggested Mr. Sherman might have lost his dog tags while swimming during training or dropped them down a drain.

But family members say they’re not sure of the connection between Mr. Sherman and Old Fort Niagara because he had never served there.

Mr. Nocerino said Mr. Sherman served in the Army Air Corps from 1944 to 1946, but was stationed in at an Army Air Force training facility in Illinois.

“He joined as soon as he was able. He started in an airplane maintenance battalion and became an instructor in the battalion. He was due to be shipped to the European Theater of Operations, but the war ended,” he said. “Old Niagara had World War I barracks, but I can’t find a mention of World War II. It could have been a transportation depot or a railroad. We cannot come up with a concrete reason why the dog tag ended up in that spot,” Mr. Nocerino.

Mr. Sherman was later a bus driver for several years for the Potsdam Central School District. He passed away in January 1992 and his widow, Alice, passed away in March.

“I never had the pleasure of knowing his parents, but I did have the pleasure of getting to meet Charlie. He was a sweet man, a loving father, but it was difficult for him to open up (about the war),” Mrs. Sherman said.

Mr. Nocerino said other veterans have also declined to talk about the war, but as they aged, it was time for them to pass the information on to the next generation.

“Their generation is dying at a phenomenal rate. You don’t know how many dog tags are sitting in dresser drawers,” he said.

Mrs. Sherman said she believes that perhaps the dog tag is Mr. Sherman’s way of talking to his family.

“Charlie is talking to his kids to let them know he’s thinking about them. I believe in angels, and you never know what shape they come in,” she said.

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