Lenny Aydemir, a 9-year-old from Medina, will present Jack B. Robbins’ family with his dog tags on Monday after spending several months tracking down the dog tags’ rightful owner.
Aydemir began researching the owner of the elusive dog tags after his uncle, who lives in France, gave them to the boy last July.
“I asked some questions about it like, ‘What was it and why am I having it?'” Aydemir recalled to local ABC affiliate WEWS-TV. “I thought it was really cool.”
Aydemir worked with Jackie Flannery, a Chicago historian with whom he found through a Google search, to find Robbins. Flannery told WEWS-TV that she had studied Robbins’ story for three years as part of an upcoming book she’s writing on pilots who flew in the U.S. Air Force’s 396th Fighter Squadron, also known as “Thunder Bums.”
“I was in disbelief. I just could not believe. We didn’t even know that he had lost his dog tags,” Flannery said.
Aydemir has spent the last two months working on a PowerPoint presentation of Robbins’ life, which will be part of Monday’s ceremony. Relatives of Robbins’ from Texas and Colorado will be flying in for the 2 p.m. ceremony, at which point he’ll officially hand over the tags.
“I think it’s going to be pretty neat and they’re going to like it and say and say thank you,” Aydemir said.
It’s expected to be an emotional event all around, according to Marcus Tucker, Robbins’ nephew. “It’s a treasure. It’s like jewelry. I still can’t believe those tags have been found,” he told WEWS-TV.
Robbins, originally from Wichita Falls, Texas, was shot down over France in 1944 and spent 10 months in a German prison camp before escaping. He died in 1969 in a drowning accident while fishing. According to WEWS-TV, the tags were discovered in a Tinqueux field in either 1989 or 1990 by Vincent Granier, a friend of the Aydemir family. Granier was also unsuccessful at tracking down Robbins’ family, thus he gave them to Adyemir’s uncle, Christophe Zielinski.
Aydemir’s mother couldn’t be more proud of him for his hard work in finding Robbins’ family.
“When I speak, I’m just like so emotional because when you imagine that American people came to help France and now my son tried to do something to thank the family,” she told the station.
Watch WEWS-TV‘s interview of Aydemir below.