Sam Nusz was drafted into the US Army during World War II on March 22, 1941. On March 22, 1944, Nusz was shipped to 204th Field Artillery which was attached to General George Patton’s XX Ghost Corps. They were active in the Normandy Invasion, the Battle of the Bulge and the liberation of the Dachau death camp.
March 22 was also the birthday of Nusz’s wife of over 70 years, Stel.
This year, on March 22, Nusz’s family received a call from Traverse City. The caller said that he knew it was strange to say, but he believed that he had Nusz’s dog tags.
Kaiti Moore was cleaning up the Veterans of Foreign Wars Cherryland Post 2780. A couple stopped in with questions about some military medals and mementos.
Moore is used to these types of questions after a year tending the bar at the VFW. A set of dog tags with Nusz’s name on them caught her attention. She received permission from the couple to get a picture of the tags so that she could try to locate Nusz’s family. She began searching the internet and found Nusz’s obituary. Nusz had passed away in March of 2014 at the age of 94. His wife and three children survived him.
Moore made a few phone calls and found out that Nusz had a friend in the Army with the last name of Herman, which happened to be the last name of the couple that had stopped by the VFW.
Norma Nusz Chandler, the daughter of Nusz., was teaching a construction management class at South Dakota State University when she received the call from Moore.
The secretary took a message and told Chandler that she wasn’t sure if it was a hoax or not, since it was such an unusual call but it sounded important and that the woman who called claimed to have the dog tags of Chandler’s father.
Chandler didn’t call back immediately since she wasn’t sure if it was some kind of scam. She could remember seeing her father’s dog tags hanging in the kitchen when she was younger. After checking with some veterans, she found that it was not uncommon for veterans to get replacement sets of tags. Both she and her brother could recall stories about someone named Herman, so they called Moore back.
They then told Stel who was in the middle of her 96th birthday celebration. She still keeps Nusz’s dog tags in the kitchen. She had met Nusz when they were children. Because they lived on farms, they kept busy at home and didn’t meet until World War II, even though they lived four miles apart.
He didn’t go to high school or get a car until he was nearly 30 years old. Due to his skills in mechanics, building, and horsemanship, he was valuable to the military.
He didn’t speak about his experience in the war after his return. He didn’t join veterans’ groups or go to reunions. Just thinking about the war brought back memories that he couldn’t bear. He said that when he thought about the war, he could smell the dead horses and people.
In 1994, on the 50th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy, he decided to talk about the war and Stel wrote everything down. She compiled the notes into a book with the help of Chandler. They published the book in 2012 as “Sam’s Story: South Dakota Though WWII Europe.”
Stel remembers Nusz talking about a Herman and there is a mention of Herman in the book. She looks forward to meeting Herman’s family, sharing stories and finding out the secret of the duplicate dog tags.
Moore is working as the go-between for the two families. She sent the tags to the Nusz family on March 29. Her goal is for the tags to find their rightful place, record-eagle.com reported.
Chandler called the date March 22 coincidental. “March 22 was certainly a monumental day for my Dad.”