Symbol of gratitude engraved in metal

Soldier's dog tags remind his posterity of his love for gospel

From time to time the Church News receives correspondence that is suitable for publication in the writer's own words. The following was written by Jerry Borrowman, Draper 15th Ward, Draper Utah North Stake, about his father-in-law.As World War II war broke out in the Pacific, Elder Carl Ned Allen was serving his mission in Scranton, Pa. Shortly thereafter, he and all the other missionaries went to register with the local draft board in their assigned area. With a full year left to serve, Elder Allen worried that he wouldn't be allowed to complete his mission, but the government honored his ministry and allowed those already in the field to complete their scheduled term.

Ned returned to his father's farm in Hyrum, Utah, in March 1943, where he helped on the family farm until being drafted the following September. Upon reporting to duty in Camp Fannin, Texas, he was issued a set of army dog tags. When asked what religious preference he wanted stamped on the tags, he said, "LDS.""Sorry," was the reply. "You'll have to be either Jewish, Protestant or Catholic."

"Well," he thought to himself. "I'm not Jewish or Catholic, so I'll have to settle for Protestant."

A large "P" was stamped in the bottom corner of his tags.

In March 1944, he filed aboard the USS Hermitage in San Francisco to transfer to Goodenough Island at the lower end of New Guinea in the South Pacific. It wasn't long before he was wading through the jungle swamps in what turned out to be some of the most intense fighting of the war. He was reported missing in action for four days. On one occasion, he spent 32 consecutive days in the muddy, insect-infested swamp. During one battle he was knocked to the ground by the impact of a bullet smashing into his body. When he looked for the wound, however, he found that the bullet had smashed into the shells on the bandoleer across his chest, stopping less than an inch short of his heart.

During a much needed break he attended a memorial service for his companions who had lost their lives. During the service he was struck with gratitude for the Lord's hand in protecting his life. He decided that his dog tags didn't pay proper respect to his religious feelings. Because so many of his friends had been killed, he determined that if he died, he wanted people to know that he belonged to the Restored Church of Jesus Christ.

With this resolve in mind, he undertook a plan to correct his dog tags while working his way through the fetid swamps of the South Pacific one oppressive spring morning. Using a stiff needle from his survival pack, he started very carefully to punch a pattern of dots in the hard metal of his dog tags to form the letters, "LDS." In time, he had altered both tags to show his true religion.

Ned served in many campaigns throughout the balance of the war, including the assault on the infamous Villa Verda trail in the Philippines. He was one of just a handful from his division that survived the campaign. Ultimately, he ended up in Japan as part of the occupation force.

Ned Allen never had occasion for his dog tags to identify him during the war. But today, 45 years later (and eight years since his death in McCammon, Idaho), those dog tags are a cherished reminder to his posterity that their grandfather loved the Lord and His Church. Of all the testimonies borne of the gospel, this is perhaps the simplest, yet most persuasive. In just three short letters - LDS - etched in metal like the plates of old, he told the world what he believed in.

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