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Lost WWII dog tags found by work crew in Blythe

August 16, 2011 |  4:27 pm

The long-lost World War II dog tags of former Army Private Ova Napier, lost during a 1942 desert training exercise near Blythe, were found by a work crew inspecting a massive solar-energy site just outside the desert town, authorities said.

The dog tags were discovered during an environmental and cultural review of the 7,000-acre Blythe Solar Power Project, slated to be among the world’s largest solar facilities, according to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Napier, originally from Clemons, Ky., joined the Army in 1942 at age 16 –- hoodwinking the military into thinking he was two years older, officials said. During the war, he served in France and Luxembourg, and later served in Japan and Africa.

It was in Africa that he contracted tuberculosis, a leading contributor to the lung cancer that killed him in 1989 at age 62, according to a statement released by bureau spokesman David Briery.

Napier joined up again during the Korean War, where he earned the Bronze Star for driving through enemy fire to man a critical gun position and defend his squad.

On Wednesday,  Napier’s dog tags will be returned to his daughter, Joy Harvey, and his granddaughter, Jennifer Fisk, during a ceremony at the General Patton Memorial Museum in Chiriaco, Calif.

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-- Phil Willon

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