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Soldier returns dog tags of fallen son to mom

Oct. 13, 2013 - 12:22PM   |  
Spc. Douglas Green's dog tags were left behind in Afghanistan, and Spc. Dylan Reece found them.
Spc. Douglas Green's dog tags were left behind in Afghanistan, and Spc. Dylan Reece found them. (Courtesy of The Douglas J. Green Memorial Foundati)
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Douglas J. Green Memorial Foundation

To help donate for care packages for soldiers or for more information visit the Douglas J. Green Memorial Foundation at http://www.douglasjgreenmemorialfoundation.org/.

Two years after her son died in Afghanistan, Suni Chabrow looked into her mailbox and took out a package, sent to her from a soldier at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

It was a change of role, since she is usually the one sending care packages to soldiers.

Chabrow didn’t open it immediately. She knew what was in it. About two weeks earlier, she had received an email from the Lewis-McChord soldier.

“He said he had something he needed to give me,” Chabrow said.

Spc. Dylan Reece’s unit replaced her son’s unit in Afghanistan. Reece was out on a clearing mission when he found a set of dog tags in the dirt. They belonged to Spc. Douglas J. Green.

Reece kept the dog tags with the intent of returning them to the soldier.

When Reece got back to the States, he searched for Green, wanting to return the dog tags to him without getting him in trouble. Then he came across the Douglas J. Green Memorial Foundation.

He learned that Green, 23, was killed Aug. 28, 2011, in Kandahar province. His unit was attacked by small-arms fire and an improvised bomb. It was his second deployment; he had been to Iraq the first time.

A month after he died, his mother started the nonprofit Douglas J. Green Memorial Foundation.

Green had always loved getting care packages, his mother said, and she used to send him two care packages a week, regularly. Green would share his treats with fellow soldiers and, soon, she was also sending packages to the other soldiers in his platoon.

When Green died, Chabrow knew what she had to do: She would keep sending a piece of home to his deployed buddies.

Her son wanted it that way, she said.

“Mom, take care of my brothers, too,” Chabrow remembers Green saying.

The foundation sends packages every other month to deployed soldiers. Their last care package sendoff was Sept. 11. They sent 1,200 care packages, at a cost of about $15,000, to deployed soldiers.

“I will keep doing it until the last soldier comes home,” Chabrow said.

When she received her own package, Chabrow waited until her daughter came home to open it. She needed the support.

In the package, they found Green’s dog tags inside a paper bag. A note was attached: “I ... feel that you need these because it is the least I can do for him because his efforts before my unit arrived helped, even if just a little or a lot, helped to make Afghanistan that much safer for me and my unit,” the note read. “Thank you ma’am for your son’s service because I can’t thank him myself. ... My condolences.”

Now, Green’s mother has to have the dog tags nearby at all times. She and her daughter take turns wearing them.

“It’s just a little bit of him always close to me,” she said.

On Oct. 2, Krissy Green, another of Green’s sisters, called in to The Kane Show, a popular morning radio show in the D.C. area, to tell her brother’s story. The radio DJ offered to pay for plane tickets to get Reece to meet Chabrow and Krissy.

Chabrow said when she meets Reece, she wants to know the details of how he found the dog tags, where he kept them for such a long time, why he searched for her son.

“I’m just so grateful to this man, who did this,” she said. “Anything that involves the person you don’t have in your life anymore, you want to know.”

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