VAMC Manchester, New Hampshire
Back in the Family
Reprinted with permission from the New Hampshire Union Leader
Daughter’s auction find includes dad’s old dog tags
By Ted Siefer
Photos by Mark Bolton
MARTI JONES has spent a good part of her professional life working on behalf of veterans, as an aide to two congressmen and in her current position as a patient advocate at the Manchester VA Medical Center.
So maybe karma explains the incredible discovery she made earlier this month, just after Veterans Day.
An avid antique collector, Jones had gone to an auction in Hooksett, where she bid on and won a box that contained old cigarette lighters — one of her specialities.
But the lot, as it is known, contained other sundry items, including a set of old military dog tags — and they bore a familiar name: “Robert J. Steiner.” That’s the name of Jones’ father, a Korean War veteran.
And the serial number was familiar too; her father used to jokingly recite it when asked to identify himself.
“I was like ‘Oh my gosh,’” Jones said. “I knew that had to be dad’s serial number.”
A call to her father confirmed that, indeed, his dog tags had made their way into an assortment of old brica-brac and then found their way back into the hands of his daughter.
“It sure was a surprise,” said Steiner, who is 83 and lives in Hooksett. He served stateside in the Army during the Korean War in an intelligence unit.
How the dog tags ended up in the lot is still something of a mystery, but Steiner said they were most likely unintentionally included among items that were auctioned off when he and his wife moved from Manchester to Hooksett four years ago.
“Some of the items I didn’t check that close,” Steiner said.
In her sleuthing, Jones learned that the lot she purchased belonged to a man who lives in Methuen, Mass., and he in turn purchased it at an auction in Arlington, Mass. From there, she said, the trail has gone cold.
“I only paid $30 for the whole box, but for me it’s priceless,” said Jones, who has taken to wearing the dog tags.
Steiner said he wants his daughter to have them. “She can have them as a memento,” he said.