Local WWI veteran’s dog tag to be returned to family

GRAVES COUNTY, KY — A 100-year-old dog tag belonging to a World War I veteran from west Kentucky will be returned to his family.

Local 6 first told you Thursday about William Crump, the Vietnam veteran in Graves County, Kentucky, who found the dog tag name bearing the name Chester F. Tibbs. Tibbs entered service as a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve Force on July 17, 1918. At some point after he returned home to Kentucky, he lost his dog tag.

Crump found the dog tag years ago. When he visited The Wall That Heals in Paducah, he gave the tag to Local 6, hoping we’d find Tibbs’ family and return it to them.

With the help of Local 6 viewers and Western Kentucky University, we obtained a copy of Tibbs’ obituary. It says he was born in Lynnville in Graves County in 1900, and he worked as a color coordinator for the Dodge division of Chrysler Corp. in Detroit for 30 years. After retiring, he moved to Englewood , Florida.

Vietnam veteran William Crump found the dog tag years ago.

The obit says Tibbs had several siblings, including a sister named Iva Martin. Using historical documents obtained from WKU’s Manuscripts and Folklore Archives, Local 6 learned that Iva had a son named Chester Robin Martin who was born near Bardwell in Carlisle County, Kentucky. Chester Martin had two granddaughters, including Mary Martin, who currently lives in Tennessee.

Mary Martin is the great niece of Chester F. Tibbs. Local 6 called her Friday evening to tell her about the dog tag that belonged to her great uncle.

“It’s remarkable. Yes, it is,” says Mary. “And it’s also interesting. I’ve never seen a dog tag that old.”

Mary also recalled when she, her grandmother Iva, and other family members visited Tibbs in Florida. Mary was about 10 to 12 years old at the time.

“He was a very nice man. He was very alert. We went out to dinner together with everybody, and visited him at his house, and did a little bit of touristy kind of things,” says Mary. “Then we took my grandmother back to Kentucky and they kept calling each other and talking to each other.”

Mary says the dog tag serves as a reminder of her family’s generations of service.

“My father was in World war II, and (Tibbs) was in World War I, and I have some first cousins that were in the Vietnam War. That just helps me think about how valuable our country is,” she says.

Mary says she also has a message for Crump.

“I really appreciate the veteran who found this, trying so hard to return it to the family,” says Mary. “I would just tell him how grateful I was to have a piece of the family history that we never expected to have.”

Local 6 will be mailing the dog tag to Mary.

Editor’s note: The video erroneously called the veteran who found the dog tag Michael Crump. His name is actually William Crump.

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