CUYAHOGA FALLS: Two Italian gardeners were working in their backyard this spring when something caught their eye.
The shiny item coming up through dirt near Rome turned out to be the dog tag for an American soldier from World War II. It belonged to Army Sgt. Mike Baranek, an Akron South High School graduate who died at age 64 in 1980, when he was living in Cuyahoga Falls.
Baranek, an Ohio Edison retiree, took part in several battles in Europe with the 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He fought in Italy and was wounded twice.
The dog tag is back in Cuyahoga Falls with his widow, Nellie Baranek, 95, sent to her by the Italian gardeners Olga Romagnolo and her friend, known only as Simone.
Its next journey will take it to another battlefield of sorts.
The dog tag will be sent to Canada, where the veteran’s granddaughter, Tammy Mahoney, 41, will clasp it as she receives chemotherapy and radiation treatment for breast cancer in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
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