New Britain

A Piece of History: Woman to See Home Dog Tags Found at Thrift Store

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When Amie Wirth was thrift shopping last week, a colorful sewing basket caught her eye.

"Because it was $2.99. You can't go wrong," said Wirth, who lives in New Britain.

What started out as a bargain find for Wirth, though, quickly turned into a trip back in time.

"Seventy years. That's a long time," Wirth said.

Inside the sewing basket, Wirth found dog tags from World War II belonging to a Morris A. Johnson. She found the sewing basket at a Savers store and had no idea the dog tags were inside. She also found pictures of a young girl and vintage Hartford firefighter buttons.

"I've never found anything so cool and you can't put a price on this stuff," Wirth said.

Wirth was determined to find the family of the WWII veteran.

"I just want to get them back to the family," she said.

From his dog tags, Wirth was able to learn that Johnson was from the Connecticut area and was drafted into the Army. She posted on Facebook hoping to learn more.

"I hope somebody comes forward," Wirth said.

Wirth's friend, Tamara, saw the Facebook post and did some online sleuthing of her own. She was able to connect Wirth with Johnson's great niece, Kristen Wilk, who lives in Southington.

"Something as personal as a dog tag, it is very meaningful," Wilk said.

Wilk said Johnson died when she was in high school, in 1988. He was her grandmother's brother.

Wilk was thankful that the dog tags made their way home, but she was even more thankful that two strangers went to such great lengths to make it happen.

"To me, that is the most special. That they would take their time to do that," Wilk said.

Wirth said it was time well-spent.

"Because it is a veteran and it is history. I think it is really important," Wirth said.

As for the pictures and the buttons, Wilk does not think they belong to her family. She said she is going to ask her other family members to find out.

Wirth will meet with Wilk later this week to return the dog tags.

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