Thank you for visiting my web site. I recently added a Guestbook to my page so please feel free to share your thoughts about the project. My name is Francesca Cumero. This dog tag return project is dedicated to my great-uncle, Angelo S. Viale, Joseph E. Gunterman (United States Navy, U.S.S. Zane), and all veterans who have served and continue to serve our country. Joseph E. Gunterman went above and beyond trying to help my family get Uncle Angelo's lost military dog tag returned to us. His kindness and generosity of spirit were the inspiration for this project. Joe continues to improve the lives of others in his own community of Waterbury, CT.
On December 12, 2006, I found out that Uncle Angelo's WWII dog tag had been found in the South Pacific. While attempting to get it returned to our family, I discovered that many tags have been found all over the world. Even though we were not able to get Uncle Angelo's dog tag returned to us, I began volunteering my time to help people who had found tags to return them to the veterans/families.
The Angelo's Angels research team has performed the research to help others return over 200 dog tags since 2006, and hope to help return many more. There is no charge for our research services and any cost incurred during the return process is never passed on to veterans/families. This is a free service. We specialize in WWII era dog tag research, but are also available to help return veteran-related items from any era, as long as the finder agrees to return the items, completely free of charge.
When you contact me, please:
*Title your subject with the name of the veteran, such as "Found Dog Tag of George H. Smith".
*Include all the printed information on the dog tag
*Explain where, when, how, and by whom the dog tag was located
*Include a picture of the tag (if possible)
Please be advised that we are currently experiencing a backlog of tag requests. If you do not hear from me right away after your first email, please email me again. I do my best to get back to people promptly, but sometimes I get busy, so follow up emails are greatly appreciated.
Pay it Forward
Angelo's Angels is not in need of financial assistance at this time, but I understand that many families and supporters of this project want to "pay it forward." If you are feeling inspired to help veterans, please send a generous donation to the Wounded Warrior Project. www.woundedwarriorproject.org. The Wounded Warrior Project is an amazing project that is really making a difference in the lives of returning veterans and their families. The website speaks for itself, so I hope you will take a look at it and give with your whole heart. Our veterans deserve nothing less. The Wounded Warrior Project is not affiliated in any way with my own project, Angelo's Angels, and I am not benefiting financially from this recommendation. Thank you for supporting veterans. We can change the world...one act of kindness at a time.
ABOUT MY UNCLE ANGELO:
My great-uncle Angelo S. Viale passed away in 1995 and is buried alongside his wife, my great-aunt Annie, in Arlington National Cemetery. Angelo was drafted into the U.S. Army on August 2, 1941. He served in the 25th Infantry Division / 161st Infantry Regiment / Company L in the South Pacific during WWII. The 25th I.D., based out of Oahu, earned the nickname “Tropic Lightning” after their swift actions on Guadalcanal in 1942. They helped break the stalemate between the battle weary 1st Marines and the Japanese. From Guadalcanal, they moved to New Georgia Island to help defend Munda Airfield, then to training for a year in New Caledonia, and then on to the Philippines in 1945 for 165 days of fighting on Luzon in the Battle of Balete Pass alongside Hwy. 5.
Angelo served until 1946. By the time he was discharged, he had attained the rank of Staff Sergeant. For actions that he performed as a Sergeant leading his platoon on April 2, 1945 near Kapintalan. He was nominated for the Medal of Honor and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross [ Read Citation ], Silver Star with 2 oak leaf clusters (meaning he earned it three times over) the Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts.
His wife, my great-aunt Annie had all of his medals framed in a shadow box and I remember looking at them as a child, but not knowing what they really represented. Aunt Annie was very proud of Uncle Angelo for earning those medals and she dug them out of the drawer that Uncle Angelo had put them in and insisted on getting them framed and giving them pride of place in their home.
During my childhood in the late 1970’s to early ‘80’s, Uncle Angelo and his family came to visit us on our ranch in Arroyo Seco, CA to go deer hunting every year. We would also visit them every Easter at their home in Martinez, CA, until my parents divorce in 1988 when we all sort of lost touch and drifted apart.
From the time I was very young, I remember my parents and maternal grandparents telling me that Uncle Angelo was a hero during WWII. The details were fuzzy. Because he rarely talked about his time during the war, all they really knew is that Uncle Angelo had saved a man's life by carrying him through heavy gunfire to safety. They told me he had been awarded several medals and that I should be proud to be his niece because he was a very brave and special man.
I can still recall, almost 30 years later, the first time Uncle Angelo ever talked to me about some of his experiences during WWII. It must have been sometime between 1979-1981. The adults had returned from deer hunting in early afternoon on a clear and sunny autumn day. Uncle Angelo was sitting in a folding chair in the sun taking off his boots and socks. I remember standing there watching him and being shocked when I saw what bad shape his feet were in. Being a curious child, and not knowing that it was rude, I asked him why his feet looked so bad.
He explained in words that a little kid could understand that about 40 years ago, he'd fought in a war in a really hot, tropical place, called the South Pacific, which was very far away from California. He said that what he had on his feet was called "jungle rot" by the soldiers and that he'd gotten it because he had to wade through a lot of mud in the jungle and his feet were always wet, even when he laid down to sleep at night. He said that he and his buddies never felt completely dry the entire time they were over there.
After that, he told me about the huge lizards, rats and snakes that attempted to share their foxholes with them, often with very humorous results. One of the stories that I've always remembered was about how the soldiers would throw TNT into lagoons to "catch" fish in order to relieve the monotony of K-rations, which Uncle Angelo described as barely edible.
To my delight, the Washington National Guard State Historical Society was kind enough to mail me a copy of a little known journal written and published by some of the enlisted men in the 161st. It is called "The History of the 161st Infantry: Golden Gate in Forty Eight". The men who wrote and published the journal are: Pfc. Elson Lowell Matson, Pfc. Jerome N. Eller, S/Sgt. Keith A. Crown, Pfc. Barnard G. Rico, Pvt. Paul R. Shepard. It is thanks to these thoughtful, talented, and enterprising men that I have a rare and honest glimpse of what my Uncle Angelo's day to day life was like as infantryman in the 161st during WWII.
While reading the journal, I came across a story about how the men of the 161st used TNT to "catch" fish! Here is an excerpt from "Golden Gate in '48" about just such an occurrence. It took place at Koli Point on Guadalcanal, February 28, 1942:
"Almost everybody went fishing. A few of Company K fellows by hook or crook secured a Higgins boat and four blocks of TNT. They took the boat some distance from shore to throw out the TNT. Then something happened.
The Higgins boat leaped several feet off the water. Planks went flying through the air. Pvt. Merle F. Johnson's shoes were blown off his feet. First Sergeant Allen L. Becker and Sgt. Richard B. McGinnis (now S Sgt.) sprained their ankles. The motor tore lose and the boat began to take in water in great gulps. The TNT had detonated a mine concealed under the ocean top.
In a minute another boat nearby towed the crippled Higgins boat and its shaken occupants to shore, but in the excitement Company L collected all the fish. Company K wound up with two names on the sick book and a statement of charges for a pair of shoes."
I am convinced that my Uncle Angelo, who was in Company L, was there that day, keeping a cool head as always, collecting that fish. Since he had only been in the service for a little over a year, he was most likely a Private First Class, or a Corporal during this incident. He was later promoted to Sergeant, and then to Staff Sergeant after his heroic actions on April 2, 1945 in Luzon.Thank you for visiting my web site and please don't forget to share your thoughts in the Guestbook. My name is Francesca Cumero. This dog tag return project is dedicated to my great-uncle, Angelo S. Viale, and all veterans who have served and continue to serve our country. Please scroll down to the bottom of the page to see a picture of Uncle Angelo wearing all of his medals. He served with the 25th Infantry "Tropic Lightning"/161st Infantry Regiment Washington National Guard/Company L.