Returning part of a soldier’s history

Zachary Trussell, Elena Branzaru
Zachary Trussell holds the dog tag he found with his aunt, Elena Branzaru, along the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge. The dog tag now is back with its rightful owner. (Photo by Arthur D. Lauck, used by permission of The Advocate newspaper)

By George Morris

It’s not every day I get asked to help locate someone, not knowing whether or not he is even alive. But when it involves returning a lost dog tag to a soldier? I’m all in.

In 2007, Elena Branzaru and her nephew, Zachary Trussell, were spending Memorial Day in downtown Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when they wandered to the edge of the Mississippi River.

“We were just messing around because we were on the levee,” Branzaru said. “We didn’t know what we were going to find.”

Lying amid broken glass, weeds, litter and driftwood near the Interstate 10 bridge was a dog tag that had been issued to Clarence A. Burke when he enlisted shortly after Japan’s Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. Burke, we would discover, hadn’t lived in Baton Rouge in more than a half-century.

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