Vancouver man on recycling center discovery: "It just put chills - KPTV - FOX 12

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Vancouver man on recycling center discovery: "It just put chills in my spine to hold stuff like this"

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The military dog tags Jesse Baker recently found. The military dog tags Jesse Baker recently found.
VANCOUVER, WA (KPTV) -

A Vancouver man recently made quite the discovery at a local recycling center, and now he’s determined to find its rightful owner.

Jesse Baker was working at the West Van Materials Recovery Center in June, and was sorting wood piles when something caught his eye.

“It was just on some painted wood and wrapped around a nail,” Baker told Fox 12’s Kelsey Watts.  “It was a long piece of board and I picked it up and it just slid down and hit the ground right in front of me, and I was like, ‘What the heck was that?’ I picked it up and thought, ‘Wow.’”

In his hands were military dog tags.

How they got there is as much a mystery as the man they once belonged to: William J. McKay.

His name and some numbers are the only clues stamped into the metal.

“It was amazing, it just put chills in my spine to hold stuff like this,” he added.  “It really does.”

He made the discovery in June and spent the summer trying to find William J. McKay or his descendants, but no luck.

Baker said even staff at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center were puzzled.

“They’ve never seen one like this...They didn’t have a clue what [the numbers] meant,” Baker said.  “I think they’re either from WWII or WWI.  It’s pretty obvious they’re hand-stamped, they’re not made like that anymore.  Now, they just run them in a machine, so they’re definitely old.”

But the man who found William J. McKay’s tags has tags of his own.

Baker served in the United States Marine Corps and knows more than most what the dog tags represent.

“I get chills all over me when I just pick them up, imagining what his family is thinking, ‘Wow, I was cleaning the deck and accidentally threw my grandpa or my dad’s tags away,’” Baker guessed.  “I’d like nothing more than to find the people who want these back, I know I’d want mine back.”

If you can help, email reporter Kelsey Watts at Kelsey.watts@kptv.com.

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