NEWARK, NJ (CBS/WCBS) -- A 90-year-old New Jersey man thought his dog tags were gone forever after he lost them in France during World War II.
But Cpl. Willie Wilkins was reunited with the dog tags on Wednesday at a special ceremony that also marked the 68th anniversary of VE Day.
Wilkins, a Newark native, lost the dog tags while serving in the Army's Quartermaster Graves Registration Units in August 1944 in Southern France, where his job was to retrieve the dead bodies of American soldiers.
Anne-Marie Crespo found the dog tags in 2001 while digging near an olive tree in her backyard in France. She thought the soldier was dead, but a neighbor urged her to try to find its owner.
After nearly a decade of research, Crespo discovered Wilkins was alive and living in Newark.
The GI GO Fund contacted Wilkins' daughter, Carol, who arranged to have the dog tags returned after confirming her father had lost them in France.
Carol Wilkins said it's a miracle that her father got his dog tags back.