Angelo's Angels 
WWII Dog Tag Return Project
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Thank you for visiting my web site. Contact information is below.  To view a picture of my Uncle Angelo, scroll to the very bottom of this page.

Angelo's Angels is a volunteer research organization that helps those who have found lost WWII dog tags or other items return them to veterans/families, completely free of charge.  The cost of these returns is NEVER, EVER passed on to veterans or their family members.   


VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: 

The Angelo's Angels research team has performed the research to help others return over 300 dog tags since late December of 2006.  Many family members (and some veterans) we have spoken to over the years wonder if we charge money for our services or are being paid by the government to do this.  The answer to this question is NO.  Angelo's Angels is an independent, volunteer only organization that is in no way affiliated with the U.S. Military or government.  We do not get paid for our services, nor do we wish to be paid.  THIS IS A FREE SERVICE.  There is NO CHARGE WHATSOEVER.  Any cost incurred during the return process is NEVER PASSED ON TO VETERANS OR THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS.  Expenses incurred during the return are paid for by the finder of the dog tag and the volunteers here at Angelo's Angels.  

Some visitors may be coming here to verify that our efforts are genuine, and not a hoax or scam.  To quickly verify that please scroll down to the very bottom of this page for news links about past successful returns.  We understand and respect your caution.  
If you've already spoken to us, and were "less than cordial", please do feel free to contact us back if you change your mind after viewing the news links.  We bear you no ill will whatsoever and would be delighted to speak to you!  We completely understand that some family members have serious doubts, or have been the victims of telephone or email scams in the past, so may have strong reactions when we contact them.  If you still have further doubts about our veracity after reading the various news links, you can also contact Bruce Burlingham, Historian for the U.S. Marine Raiders Association for a personal reference.  Bruce is also a dedicated member of Angelo's Angels.  Just do a Google search for Bruce Burlingham Marine Raiders and you will be able to find contact info for him.

Please also see our Guestbook for further verification.  

INTRODUCTION AND INFORMATION ABOUT ANGELO'S ANGELS:

My name is Francesca Cumero. This dog tag return project is dedicated to my great-uncle, Angelo S. Viale, Joseph E. Gunterman (United States Navy, U.S.S. Zane), The Greatest Generation, and all veterans who have served and continue to serve our country. Joseph E. Gunterman went above and beyond trying to help my family get Uncle Angelo's lost military dog tag returned to us. His kindness and generosity of spirit were the inspiration for this project. Joe continues to improve the lives of others in his own community of Waterbury, CT.

On December 12, 2006, I found out that Uncle Angelo's WWII dog tag had been found in the South Pacific. While attempting to get it returned to our family, I discovered that many tags have been found all over the world. Even though we were not able to get Uncle Angelo's dog tag returned to us, I began volunteering my time to help people who had found tags to return them to the veterans/families.

Please scroll down to the bottom of the page to see a picture of Uncle Angelo (with his niece-in-law, Barbara) wearing all of his medals. He served with the 25th Infantry "Tropic Lightning"/161st Infantry Regiment Washington National Guard/Company L. 

 

When you contact me, please:


*Title your subject with the name of the veteran, such as "Found Dog Tag of George H. Smith on Guadalcanal".

*Include all the printed information on the dog tag

*Explain where, when, how, and by whom the dog tag was located, including as much detailed information about the location as possible because this can help us track down which unit he served with.

*Include a picture of the tag (if possible)

Sometimes we get very busy, or your emails gets kicked into the spam folder and missed for a little while, so if you do not hear back from me right away after your first email, please email me again, or write to me via Facebook at the Angelo's Angels page.  If you prefer to speak by phone, I'm happy to give out my phone number in a private email, but prefer not to post it to the page.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Pay it Forward

Angelo's Angels is not in need of financial assistance at this time.  We ask for nothing in return except to request that you pay it forward in your own communities whenever possible and ask others to do the same in return.  Thank a veteran when you see one walking down the aisle in the grocery story...give someone a smile or speak kind words when they seem sad...hold a door open for a stranger.  Even little things like that make a huge difference in the world.  It wasn't only great bravery and sacrifice that helped us win WWII, but the acts of kindness and good humor on the part of the Greatest Generation, from ALL nations on this planet, that helped keep their hopes up and their faith alive in the darkest of times.  We are facing challenging and tumultuous times throughout the entire world at this time.  We can make more of a positive difference than we know, just by showing kindness, generosity and compassion towards our fellow human beings.  By doing this, we will truly be honoring and exemplifying the spirit of the Greatest Generation, from all Nations and walks of life.  We can change the world...one act of kindness at a time. 

Many dog tag return families and supporters of this project want to help veterans.  If you are feeling inspired to help veterans and are not sure where to begin, please take a look at this website www.woundedwarriorproject.org Note: the Wounded Warrior project is not affiliated with Angelo's Angels in any way, nor do we benefit financially from any endorsement of them.  

ABOUT MY UNCLE ANGELO:

My great-uncle Angelo S. Viale passed away in 1995 and is buried alongside his wife, my great-aunt Annie, in Arlington National Cemetery. Angelo was drafted into the U.S. Army on August 2, 1941. He served in the 25th Infantry Division / 161st Infantry Regiment / Company L in the South Pacific during WWII. The 25th I.D., based out of Oahu, earned the nickname “Tropic Lightning” after their swift actions on Guadalcanal in 1942. They helped break the stalemate between the battle weary 1st Marines and the Japanese. From Guadalcanal, they moved to New Georgia Island to help defend Munda Airfield, then to training for a year in New Caledonia, and then on to the Philippines in 1945 for 165 days of fighting on Luzon in the Battle of Balete Pass alongside Hwy. 5.

Angelo served until 1946. By the time he was discharged, he had attained the rank of Staff Sergeant. For actions that he performed as a Sergeant leading his platoon on April 2, 1945 near Kapintalan. He was nominated for the Medal of Honor and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross [ Read Citation ], Silver Star with 2 oak leaf clusters (meaning he earned it three times over) the Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts.

His wife, my great-aunt Annie had all of his medals framed in a shadow box and I remember looking at them as a child, but not knowing what they really represented. Aunt Annie was very proud of Uncle Angelo for earning those medals and she dug them out of the drawer that Uncle Angelo had put them in and insisted on getting them framed and giving them pride of place in their home.

During my childhood in the late 1970’s to early ‘80’s, Uncle Angelo and his family came to visit us on our ranch in Arroyo Seco, CA to go deer hunting every year. We would also visit them every Easter at their home in Martinez, CA, until my parents divorce in 1988 when we all sort of lost touch and drifted apart.

From the time I was very young, I remember my parents and maternal grandparents telling me that Uncle Angelo was a hero during WWII. The details were fuzzy. Because he rarely talked about his time during the war, all they really knew is that Uncle Angelo had saved a man's life by carrying him through heavy gunfire to safety. They told me he had been awarded several medals and that I should be proud to be his niece because he was a very brave and special man.

I can still recall, almost 30 years later, the first time Uncle Angelo ever talked to me about some of his experiences during WWII. It must have been sometime between 1979-1981. The adults had returned from deer hunting in early afternoon on a clear and sunny autumn day. Uncle Angelo was sitting in a folding chair in the sun taking off his boots and socks. I remember standing there watching him and being shocked when I saw what bad shape his feet were in. Being a curious child, and not knowing that it was rude, I asked him why his feet looked so bad.

He explained in words that a little kid could understand that about 40 years ago, he'd fought in a war in a really hot, tropical place, called the South Pacific, which was very far away from California. He said that what he had on his feet was called "jungle rot" by the soldiers and that he'd gotten it because he had to wade through a lot of mud in the jungle and his feet were always wet, even when he laid down to sleep at night. He said that he and his buddies never felt completely dry the entire time they were over there.

After that, he told me about the huge lizards, rats and snakes that attempted to share their foxholes with them, often with very humorous results. One of the stories that I've always remembered was about how the soldiers would throw TNT into lagoons to "catch" fish in order to relieve the monotony of K-rations, which Uncle Angelo described as barely edible.

To my delight, the Washington National Guard State Historical Society was kind enough to mail me a copy of a little known journal written and published by some of the enlisted men in the 161st. It is called "The History of the 161st Infantry: Golden Gate in Forty Eight". The men who wrote and published the journal are: Pfc. Elson Lowell Matson, Pfc. Jerome N. Eller, S/Sgt. Keith A. Crown, Pfc. Barnard G. Rico, Pvt. Paul R. Shepard. It is thanks to these thoughtful, talented, and enterprising men that I have a rare and honest glimpse of what my Uncle Angelo's day to day life was like as infantryman in the 161st during WWII.

While reading the journal, I came across a story about how the men of the 161st used TNT to "catch" fish! Here is an excerpt from "Golden Gate in '48" about just such an occurrence. It took place at Koli Point on Guadalcanal, February 28, 1942:

"Almost everybody went fishing. A few of Company K fellows by hook or crook secured a Higgins boat and four blocks of TNT. They took the boat some distance from shore to throw out the TNT. Then something happened.

The Higgins boat leaped several feet off the water. Planks went flying through the air. Pvt. Merle F. Johnson's shoes were blown off his feet. First Sergeant Allen L. Becker and Sgt. Richard B. McGinnis (now S Sgt.) sprained their ankles. The motor tore lose and the boat began to take in water in great gulps. The TNT had detonated a mine concealed under the ocean top.

In a minute another boat nearby towed the crippled Higgins boat and its shaken occupants to shore, but in the excitement Company L collected all the fish. Company K wound up with two names on the sick book and a statement of charges for a pair of shoes."

I am convinced that my Uncle Angelo, who was in Company L, was there that day, keeping a cool head as always, collecting that fish. Since he had only been in the service for a little over a year, he was most likely a Private First Class, or a Corporal during this incident. He was later promoted to Sergeant, and then to Staff Sergeant after his heroic actions on April 2, 1945 in Luzon.

To read the whole story of how I found out about my uncle's tag being found and the subsequent creation of Angelo's WWII Angels, please go to this link on Justin Taylan's page, www.pacificwrecks.org.  Justin has compiled a truly amazing resource for anyone searching for information about the war in the South Pacific, specifically aviation information.

http://www.pacificwrecks.com/people/authors/cumero/index.html

To listen to the story of how a dog tag was found in Canada by Raymond Godwin and returned the veteran's family, please go to this podcast at CBC (Canada) Radio.  This return also involved an "unsolved mystery", so I hope you'll give it a listen:

 http://www.cbc.ca/labradormorning/episodes/2012/07/25/dog-tags---makaing-their-way-back-home-to-the-us/
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