Fifteen years ago, a 10-year old California boy found a set of World War II era dog tags laying in the dirt. He picked them up, took them home and put them away. Now, the 25-year old U.S. Coast Guard reservist wants to reunite the dog tags with their owner or his family.

Searching for WWII Veteran

Monterey County resident Mario San Paolo, a member of the Coast Guard Reserve, found dog tags belonging to World War II veteran William Francis White lying in the dirt near a Castroville swimming pool 15 years ago, when he was 10 years old. (Photo by Vern Fisher – Monterey Herald)

Mario San Paolo shared his story with The Monterey Herald, who then reached out to VA for help in making a connection.

According to the Herald, San Paolo just 10 years old when he found a set of World War II-vintage military dog tags laying in the dirt outside a swimming pool. He recently found them in the box he’d put them in all those years ago.

“There’s a subdivision just off Highway 156 … right outside Castroville, [Calif.], and my sister was a lifeguard at the swimming pool there, so I’d go swimming while she was at work,” San Paolo, told the paper. “I saw the dog tags lying there in the dirt one day, just outside the pool — they looked like they’d just been dropped there — and I just remember thinking, ‘Hey, cool … this is what GI Joe wears!’”

Now, San Paolo has served for six years in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves, including a 10-month deployment with the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He told the Herald his service has instilled an appreciation for the what the dog tags signify, and he’d like to find a way to return them to the Veteran or his family.

The name on the tags is that of William Francis White, a member of the U.S. Navy Reserves. According to information on the tags, it appears White served in the Navy reserves during World War II.

“When I saw those tags again after serving six years in the Coast Guard Reserve, I obviously had a much-better appreciation of their importance,” San Paolo told the newspaper. “I’d really like to get them back where they belong.”

If you know William Francis White or members of his family, leave a comment below — we’ll get the information to The Monterey Herald. You can also help by sharing this story on social media — we have posted it on VA’s Facebook page, as well as Twitter and Instagram.

US Coast Guard reservist seeks to reunite #WWII dog tags with Veteran, family. Can you help? Read about it at

A photo posted by Department of Veterans Affairs (@deptvetaffairs) on

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Published on Jun. 12, 2015

Estimated reading time is 2.4 min.

Views to date: 203


  1. DannyG June 19, 2015 at 10:29 am

    God bless you all! Look how the veteran family comes together to help each other! Mr. San Paolo, you have done a good thing, & I am proud of you. I lost my tags a few years ago, & actually shed a tear (don’t tell anyone). They become a piece of us. I hope Mr. White’s family has many good memories resurface as a result of your good deed. GOOD JOB!

  2. Vickie Adams June 15, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    DATE OF BIRTH: 02/19/1920
    DATE OF DEATH: 04/21/2010

    DATE OF BIRTH: 04/05/1919
    DATE OF DEATH: 05/26/2007

    • Megan Moloney June 15, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      Thanks, Vickie. We were able to find these on VA’s grave site locator, but haven’t been able to verify them via the service number.

  3. Andrea Mize June 14, 2015 at 2:52 am

    This may be my grandfather. He lived in the Bay Area most of his life, but served in Korea, the best of my knowledge. Checking with the rest of the family and will repost!

  4. Ron Cabral June 13, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    If the number under his ID number is his birth date he would have to a VIETNAM ERA vet not WW2 era vet..

    • Jamie Talken June 15, 2015 at 7:15 pm

      The number under his service number is the date he had his tetanus shot. So that date would fit with a WWII Vet.

  5. Fran Elwell June 13, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    I found a William Francis White who died in 1970 and is buried at Ft. Rosecrans Nat’l Cemetery. You might try contacting them for Family information.

  6. ronald wiese June 13, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    William francis white was a cousin of mine, they even named a street after him in Kingston ny.

  7. jason T June 13, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    type o blood
    jan 8 1943
    and a partial service number.
    Contacting the archives or DOD with that info might be able to get more info on him.

  8. Charity Spradlin June 13, 2015 at 2:08 am

    On US Dept Of Veterans Affairs (my Grandfather was in WW II in the Navy…so this sparked my interest highly)…Nationwide Gravsite Locator…National Cemetery Administration.

    #9. White, William Francis
    DOB: 2/19/1920
    DOD: 4/21/2010
    (405) 375-4131
    There’s also an obituary posted on Facebook

  9. Pam Bolton June 13, 2015 at 12:11 am

    William Francis White was a Seaman 1st Class aboard the USS LCI(L)-547 (Landing Craft Infantry – Large), if that helps any..

  10. Jeffrey Campbell June 12, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    There are four William Francis Whites’ listed in California on One of the gentleman is buried in San Mateo County – this is where Castroville is at.

    If you contact the cemetery they can more than likely provide the funeral home which handled the body. Most likely the funeral home will have next of kin information.

    • Susan June 13, 2015 at 10:20 pm

      Do you have any further info on William Francis White? I may have found the one. He is deceased, but I am waiting to hear from the contact to see if he was a reservist.

  11. Deborah B. Steger June 12, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    I worked at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital from 2005-2013. I know a veteran with this very name and his wife also. He may have passed away at this point, his wife would still be living and his sons also. He always sang “Anchors Away” to me because I was a previous Navy Nurse at Camp Pendleton in California. He had been stationed there also, but I am thinking he may have been a Marine.
    Private message me if interested.

    • Megan Moloney June 12, 2015 at 3:44 pm

      Thank you, Debbie. We’ve sent you an email with more information.

Comments are closed.

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