WWI dog tags found in France, traced back to NY soldier

VOORHEESVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A dog tag belonging to a World War I soldier recently turned up in France, but it belonged to a soldier from Voorheesville.

Frank l. Smith was stationed in France during WWI. His dog tag was purchased by a Frenchman who collects memorabilia at a flea market in a village where his unit had passed through.

The man reached out to a descendant of Smith who lives in Nebraska and also happens to be a genealogist. She, like Smith, was also stationed in France during the war.

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“The person who bought it was a collector of these things in France, and obviously, someone was plowing a field or doing some archaeology work,” Voorheesville Public Library Archivist Jim Corsaro said.

The dog tag is still in good condition. One side displayed Smith’s name, and the other side has a six-digit service number.

“They’re actually in pretty good shape,” Corsaro said. “In fact, I was able to identify it because his serial number is on the dog tag.”

Smith’s descendant thought it was her grandfather, but further research proved it was Smith. She then came across a diary inscription of his that was posted by the Voorheesville Public Library.

The library said Smith’s wife used to send care items to soldiers who were fighting at the time. She later donated all those items to the library before she died.

Smith and his wife had a gas station. And before Smith died, they turned the gas station into a pizzeria that still stands on Maple Avenue.

As for the dog tag, the library said they’d be interested in seeing if the Frenchman would be willing to donate or sell the dog tag for the public to see in the Capital Region.

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“If we get his name from this woman in Nebraska, maybe we can write to them to ask if it’s possible if we can donate them or buy them for whatever he paid for them,” Corsaro said.

Smith was in poor health by his mid-50s and couldn’t serve in World War II. He died in 1956.

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