Back in 1993, a Vietnam USMC veteran and retired police chief, was in Vietnam with a group called Operation Smile. He was there as logistics support coordinator for the project’s medical program. In the streets outside his hotel, he met villagers who had what appeared to be old, rusty American dog tags. He bought over 400 of them back home and later gave them to the POW/MIA Awareness Committee of New Jersey to locate and return the dog tags to the veterans.
Rodney Wesley Botelho, was born August 9, 1937 in Honolulu, Hawaii. After graduating from St Louis High School in Hawai’i, he went to college in Indiana at Purdue University and then transferred to USC in Southern California where he played football. After graduating from college, he received his commission as a 2nd Lt. in the USMC in 1960 at Quantico, VA. He served for 21 ½ years at the following duty stations as a facilities engineer:
Camp Lejeune, NC; Okinawa; El Toro, CA; Ft. Belvoir, VA; Pendleton, CA; Lincoln, NB; Vietnam; Kaneohe; HI; Washington, DC; Camp Smith, HI where he retired as a Lt. Col. In 1982.
After retiring from the Marine Corps., he continued living in Hawai’i. He worked for many years as a food broker with the military base commissaries, drove a tour bus, and eventually had his own golf sales and tour company. He retired when he was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer. He passed away on November 6, 2011.
With the help of American Legion Post 1 of Portland, Orgeon, Rodneys daughter, Adreinne was presented with her fathers dog tag, with her family by her side.
It was an emotional moment and Adrienne plans on taking her fathers dog tag to his final resting place at the Punchbowl in Hawaii in the near future.