The dog tag was found in a box containing books donated to the Friends of the Blanchard Community Library... and now it is on its way to the sister of Robert J. Gomez, a Navy veteran who passed away in April.
Dog tag of late Navy veteran found
in box of books donated to BCL
August 20, 2014
Santa Paula News
It started as a cryptic message on Nextdoor.com, the online service that links neighborhoods.
The August 7 post noted, “While processing books for the book sales at the library we found a military dog tag for Robert J. Gomez. If anyone wants this please contact,” Joy Cummings, president of the Friends of Blanchard Community Library.
When contacted about the dog tag, Cummings noted, “We get all kinds of crazy things,” that turn up in book donation boxes.
Once, Friends’ volunteers found a set of keys but the owner was lucky: his identity was known and the keys returned to him... after being lost for five years.
When it came to the dog tag, “All it has is his name and serial number,” said Cummings, Robert J. Gomez, USN.
The military dog tag was found “In the bottom of the box... after we emptied the books.”
The Friends, said Cummings, “process the daily donations on a daily basis and then we try to do a box or two a day,” of older donations that were never processed.
The box holding the dog tag she added, “Was a recent donation... it was a box just left out on the table,” for drop off donations located outside the library’s business office entrance.
She was impressed at the good condition of the tag: “It’s very clean which is amazing - most of the stuff we get in is filthy! - and looks fairly new actually.”
Cummings said if no one stepped up to claim the dog tag it would go to someone that would appreciate it.
After some research an obituary was found for a Robert J. Gomez, a native of Santa Paula and Navy veteran who passed away in April at his Ventura home.
With the commonality of the name, the Navy service mentioned in the obituary and timing of the donation it seemed like a likely match.
With a posting on the Growing Up in Santa Paula Facebook page seeking those who might know Gomez’s family - his only child, a son had predeceased him - Karen Araiza Reynolds of Santa Paula provided the missing link, a phone number for his sister Helen Gonzales, given to her by Kimberley Gonzales Carville, Gonzales’ daughter.
When contacted Gonzales was surprised and delighted that the symbol of her brother’s military service had been located.
Gomez, whom the family called “Bob,” was born on January 27, 1937, one of six children; he passed away April 28, 2014, following a courageous battle with cancer.
He attended Santa Paula High School from 1952 thru 1954, lettered in baseball and was selected by the Ventura County CIF Team.
After his 1955 graduation from Ventura High School, Gomez enlisted in the Navy and served proudly on the US Navy Submarine “Seafox” as Electrician 2nd Class for four years.
“He went to Japan, Australia, New Zealand and of course Honolulu,” said Gonzales of her brother’s Navy service.
After leaving the service, Gomez had his own trucking and construction business for over 15 years and then went to work for the Saticoy Lemon Association as a field manager, traveling throughout California, coordinating lemon harvests until his retirement in 2000.
Gomez was an accomplished golfer and member of the Saticoy Country Club, and a Third Degree level member of the Knights of Columbus Santa Paula Council.
His beloved son, Navy Veteran, Robert Salvador Gomez, passed away in 1996 and at the time of his own death Gomez was survived by his sisters, brothers, and beloved nieces and nephews.
Gonzales said her brother had been living in Ventura “for many, many years... when he passed away other family members packaged things up,” selling his possessions at a garage sale and donating the books to the Blanchard Community Library.
During such stressful times important items can be overlooked, as was the dog tag found by the Friends of the Library.
Gonzales, who now lives in Nevada City, is a former BCL volunteer.
“I loved to read... I’d get 10 to 20 books at a time; I’d read about five or six a week. I volunteered at the library for about four or five years,” cataloging books, putting them on shelves, whatever needed to be done for library staff.
“That was about 25 years ago,” she noted.
Gonzales has her own lost and found story connected to the military: “When I worked at the Hospice of the Foothills about 16 years ago I found this bracelet for a Vietnam vet... I wore it for about six years and then found out he had passed away, as had his family members.”
On a visit to Washington, DC she visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the monument with over 58,000 names of dead and missing soldiers.
“I found his name on the wall,” and Gonzales left the bracelet on the ground below it.
Sometimes, she added, “You find the most interesting things in the most uncommon places... “
Gonzales will now be checking the mail for the dog tag that has been sent to her.