Deceased WWII Vet’s Dog Tags Come Home to Indiana from France after 79 Years

Staff Sgt. Jackson McGill was serving in World War II in 1944 when his B-57 bomber was downed in France. The plane was shot down only two days after the D-Day invasion began.

McGill was wounded and was taken to a small community in France to heal at a Citadel. Somehow, McGill had lost his dog tags at the time, but they wouldn’t be lost forever.

The story was told by Retired U.S. Marine Lt. Colonel Valerie Prehoda, who is currently living in France.

Wikimedia / National Park Service

They were having a barbecue in France on August 31, 2021. That barbecue was to honor the French and American people who worked hard during that time.

As part of it, the American Legion, Department of France, assisted in bringing the remains of a deceased American soldier from World War II back to his home in Colorado.

Prehoda spoke about how the Château owner was there with her gardener. He continued: “This old man pulled out a dog tag he found 30 years ago. He carried it in his wallet for 30 years waiting to meet an American who could return it to the soldier’s family.

“When he gave me the dog tags, I promised the gardener I would find the family.”

A French historian was enlisted by Prehoda to unravel the mystery. They found out that McGill had been buried in Anderson at the Maplewood Cemetery.

McGill’s family was brought in after the staff at Maplewood was told about the situation. They wanted to bring the dog tags home, and they decided to do it on Magill’s 100th birthday, June 19.

Remi Trolle, a grandson of the gardener, was sent to Anderson to take part in the ceremony.

Photos: Wikimedia / Rifle Salute

Jackson McGill’s oldest child, Karen McGill Young, was also able to attend. She shared stories about her father with those in attendance.

Young was born in Akron, Ohio, but the family moved a number of times over the years. In 1942, they were living in Niagara Falls, New York, when he joined the Army Air Force. He also met his future wife and proposed 13 days later.

When McGill got back from the war, he enrolled at Anderson College. He then went on to work a number of jobs before passing away in 2002.

After the ceremony, Young spoke about how wonderful it was. She said: “Who would have ever thought they would take the time and effort to return the dog tags? It’s amazing.”

A grandson of the veteran, Max McGill, said his grandfather didn’t have much to say about the war. What he did know is that his grandfather was serving in Normandy as a radio operator. He was in three airplane crashes, two of which he was the sole survivor of.

The honorary consul of France to Indiana, Martin Baier, was honored to be at the ceremony. He spoke about how Americans had liberated France 80 years ago.

Perhaps he summed things up best, saying: “They were France’s heroes and always will be. Jackson McGill did what he had to, did his duty.”

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