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First Capital Digger

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 As detectorists we all know that we search for history buried beneath our feet. Little did I know that I would find history today July 29, 2015 in the form of a zippo lighter, who knew that it would end up being so much more of an adventure then actually finding the lighter. The lighter was hand inscribed with a name, service number as well as other identifiable information. I took it upon myself to find the owner and return the lighter.

      I researched online with no luck, pulled out the local phone book and started to call everyone listed with the same last name "Dyer". There is a total of 8 names listed in the phone book. I called the first 5 with no luck, number 6 is the wife of the lighters owners brother (Keith). Keith was number 7 in the book and next to be called. When I reached Keith I learned a little about Jerry (Gerald) Lynn Dyer. Jerry was born August of 1942 (The reserve division was disbanded 15 August 1942, and concurrently reconstituted in the Army of the United States as the 101st Airborne Division.) as luck would have it 101st Airborne was also inscribed on the lighter several times. While talking to Keith about Jerry I learned that Jerry did serve our country but since his return from active duty(due to a brain injury) Jerry became very estranged from family and old friends which left Keith and Bruce(brother not listed in the phone book) not being able to get close with their brother. Jerry struggled to adjust back into civilian life. He became a loner.

Jerry Lynn Dyer served his country from July 13, 1960 to February 1967. He served actively in foreign countries for 2 years, 6 months and 13 days. He earned and received the National Defense Service medal as well as a sharpshooter medal. Jerry also served with the 101st Airborne. I was able to find out this information by calling the quartermaster at the local VFW club who then gave me the name of the local Ross County Veterans Service commission (740) 772-1600. When I called the number I spoke to Johna Pulver a 30 year employee who knew Jerry personally, since he did not have a residence/address for mail they allowed him and others in the same situation to have their mail/checks to be sent into that office and retrieved at their convenience, hence her opportunity to get to know Jerry.

        The community locals also remember seeing Jerry around town and even gave him the nickname Sgt. Walker because when you did see him walking around town he was always in his uniform, he lived on the streets and slept in our local city park (only about 2 blocks from where I found the lighter). Jerry died around 2005 alone. I was only able to get this information from Johna because she already knew of his death and also set up Jerry's burial in our local veterans cemetery. She informed me of his plot location in Veterans Square of Greenlawn Cemetery

      I went to the cemetery to find Jerry and return his lighter, a lighter that must have meant so much to him for him to have put all of that information on it by hand.  Sadly I was not able to locate and pay my formal respects to Jerry, as there are several gravesites that do not have stones, just flags and war era flag holders. I did return his lighter to the flagpole of that section of the cemetery. I felt it was the right thing to do.

        Most people would have only found a lighter today..But for me I found a story about a very small portion of a mans life who was willing to give everything so I could live in this great country of ours, swing my coil over the soil and find his lighter...I love finding history 1 beep at a time.

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docgold

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Reply with quote  #2 
I had a Zippo lighter while in Viet Nam. It had the Big Red One patch on one side and on the other side my unit crest. I've since lost it but don't know when or where. It would be nice to find it again. Finds like the one you show are great!! 

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First Capital Digger

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks docgold

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docgold

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Reply with quote  #4 
There are treasures then there at treasures! What are your favorite treasures? I love anything "OLD"! Not so much gold and silver but ancient things that have real meaning! Love ancient things!

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Dutch

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Reply with quote  #5 
Such a cool story, thank you for sharing.  It just goes to show you that the story is only as deep as you make it. Such an honor to able to retrace someones life like that.  
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Peter Netzel

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Reply with quote  #6 
Small world I was once in the Big Red One, but station in Germany at a very small place between Stuttgart and New Ulm.
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First Capital Digger

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Reply with quote  #7 
Thanks for taking the time to read my story, and the comments. My favorite type of relics are the ones that tell their story thru the research I do on the relics, like the lighter. I really enjoy finding relics that can be tied to local folklore. I enjoy researching my finds and love when I can tie them to my community. I would love to find something ancient. My oldest find is a 14th century French Iron Barn Door Key but I do not consider it ancient. I would not have known what it was if it was not for The Ross County Historical Society. They also helped to identify that there was a farm house and 3 outbuildings sitting on my property. The farm house was built in the 1600's and torn down in 1897 and the farm sold off in smaller plots and the home I now live in was built in 1905. The key I found in my back yard. 101_0817.jpg
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Dutch

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Reply with quote  #8 
wow very cool find! That's a pretty substantial key, any idea or guess as to what type of lock it would have fit?
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First Capital Digger

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Reply with quote  #9 
@Dutch 14th century French Iron Barn Door Key.

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Dutch

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Reply with quote  #10 
I guess you did mention what it was to in your description, I got caught up in the potential back story I forgot what you had mentioned.
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os1rfw

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Reply with quote  #11 
That is a great story and I commend you for trying to locate him and his grave site. Way beyond what most people do.
On your French key, that is a cool fine.
  Ron W.
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