Earlier this week, Angela Bennett-Engele lost her father's military dog tags at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport. When a retired Marine saw the story, he knew something had to be done so he called Hurlburt Field. Angela received three sets of replica dog tags on Thursday morning before she flew home to Texas.
HURLBURT FIELD — When Angela Bennett-Engele lost her father’s military dog tags at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport on Monday, she wasn’t sure if she would have to leave town without them.
The tags were the only thing Angela had left of her father, Capt. Steven L. Bennett, who was killed in action in Vietnam when Angela was only 2 years old. Her father was an OV-10 pilot and Medal of Honor recipient who trained at Hurlburt Field before going to Vietnam.
On Thursday morning, just hours before her plane was set to fly her home to Texas, Angela received a gift from the same Air Force base where she last saw her father alive.
The base’s Public Affairs Office saw the Northwest Florida Daily News story about the lost dog tags Wednesday morning. After speaking with Angela, the office put a rush on getting replica tags.
“We’re honored to have been a part of reuniting her with a piece of her dad’s legacy,” Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs spokeswoman Capt. Angelica Epperson said. “Her father’s service and ultimate sacrifice is something we respect and honor.”
The presentation was made by Col. Richard Anderson, Air Force Special Operations Command chaplain, in front of an OV-10 plane like the one Angela’s father piloted.
“A sacrifice such as that won’t affect just one person, and you can see how it has affected her,” Epperson said.
For Angela, receiving replicas of her father’s dog tags at Hurlburt Field was a bittersweet moment.
“It means a lot that it came from the last base he was at,” Angela said. “It’s very comforting.”
Angela still hopes to find the original tags, but having a new set makes going home a lot easier.
“It’s nice to be able to go home with something around my neck,” Angela said. “I have my security blanket again.”