By Mike Sullivan, WBZ-TV
FAIRHAVEN – An uncovered dog tag from World War II is on its way home after being lost in the Czech Republic for decades.
We first reported this story last week. The tag was discovered by Jaroslav Sevcik and his family. They were metal detecting in the woods in the western part of the Czech Republic when they came across it. The area saw combat during World War II. It’s the second tag the family has found, and now the second time they have reunited a tag with a family. Coincidentally, the first tag belonged to the relative of a Wakefield family.
“It’s basically the city that was liberated by the American army during World War II,” detailed Sevcik. “I supposed there was a unit in the US army in WWII where this guy lost this dog tag there.”
The dog tag reads Walter Chadwick. Sevcik posted a picture of the tag online. People tracked the tag to a Walter Chadwick who died in 1955. He is buried in New Bedford next to his wife Julia.
“I’m surprised that you can find small things, such as an ID from the World War, and you can find so many things on the internet about this one person who was in Czechia almost 100 years ago,” adds Sevcik.
After our story aired, people began reaching out to Patricia Chadwick and her nephew Sal Matteos. Walter is Patricia’s father. She was about 2 years old when Walter was fighting overseas.
“He came home to a bunch of Polish women who lived together. My immigrant grandmother spoke no English,” laughed Patricia Chadwick. “For two-and-a-half years I was speaking fluent polish, and I knew no English. This is when he said to my mother, ‘You haven’t taught her English? How am I supposed to communicate with my child? ‘”
Sevcik’s post online sparked numerous people around the world to help in the search. One of those people was a man from Austin, Texas. He contacted Patricia recently, but she thought it was a scam. He asked her if she was the daughter of Walter Chadwick.
“My aunt didn’t know who was on the other end, so she said no,” said Sal Matteo trying to control his laughter.
Matteo is a 22-year veteran of the Air Force, who has since left the military and lives in Virginia. He grew up in his grandfather’s home in Fairhaven. Walter Chadwick sold the house to his daughter Nancy who is Sal’s mother.
“They had this really cool memorabilia from back when you could take the spoils of war,” said Matteo remembering his grandmother’s home. “He had a German sword, an officer’s sword. He had a Nazi flag.”
Sevcik is in the process of mailing the dog tag back to Massachusetts. As Walter Chadwick’s only living daughter, Matteo says his aunt Patricia is the rightful owner now. His mother Nancy passed away from cancer three weeks ago.
“One of my nephews thinks somehow this is my sister Nancy letting us know that she has hooked up in the afterlife with Walter and Julia, and she is sending us some signal,” smiles Patricia, “Basically this week has been a reunion of our family.”