Owner of ID re­cov­ered in Pearl Har­bour found

Stratford Press - - News - By JA­COB MCSWEENY Whanganui Chron­i­cle

The Whanganui-born man be­hind a mys­te­ri­ous New Zealand naval iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card that was found at the bot­tom of Pearl Har­bour has been dis­cov­ered alive and well in Auck­land.

Nigel Vin­cent Fos­ter’s ID card was re­cently dredged out of the fa­mous Hawai­ian naval base by a con­trac­tor and an on­line cam­paign was launched to find him.

A photo of the ID card was posted on the Royal New Zealand Navy’s com­mu­nity Facebook page as well as sev­eral other com­mu­nity pages. It was shared 22,000 times over Facebook.

The De­fence Force said Fos­ter’s fam­ily were tagged in posts and within a day they had made con­tact with Fos­ter and his wife Lynne, now liv­ing in Ma­nurewa.

Fos­ter said he was amazed his card was still recog­nis­able. He told De­fence Force staff the day it went miss­ing was 50 years ago. He said he was 18 years old and work­ing as an elec­tri­cian re­cruit help­ing load stores into HMNZS Otago.

“I was help­ing to load ship sup­plies, and I took my shirt off be­cause it was a hot day. When I put my shirt back on, the ID card was gone.”

Last month dredg­ing con­trac­tor Charles Mor­ton, work­ing on re­mov­ing un­ex­ploded ord­nance from the har­bour floor at Wai­pio Point, plucked the bat­tered card from the mud and sludge.

Mor­ton’s com­pany’s pol­icy if they dis­cov­ered dog tags was to try to find the owner or at least their fam­ily. He con­tacted the NZ Navy with pho­tos.

Fos­ter joined the navy in January 1963 for five years, say­ing he wanted “an in­ter­est­ing job and a dif­fer­ent life”.

The travel was the re­ally en­joy­able part, with the de­ploy­ment to Hawaii com­ing dur­ing March and Oc­to­ber 1968.

HMNZS Otago was in Pearl Har­bour for re­fu­elling, tak­ing on sup­plies and train­ing.

Mor­ton said his com­pany dredges Pearl Har­bour fre­quently and a lot of in­ter­est­ing ob­jects have been found.

“We have found sev­eral bells from small boats, sev­eral pro­pel­lers from 10 inches to five feet [25cm to 1.5m] across, a Dan­forth an­chor that stands eight feet [2.4m] tall. We’ve found enough anti-air­craft ammo to shoot down half the WWII Ze­ros.”

Cof­fee cups, mess trays, sil­ver­ware, tools and dozens of lead weights are com­mon.

PHOTO / SUP­PLIED

Nigel Fos­ter and his wife Lynne are now liv­ing in Ma­nurewa.

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