Researcher who stole 300 WWII dog tags from National Archives sentenced to year in prison

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tags: WWII, National Archives, war memorabilia

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In messages with potential buyers of military artifacts, Antonin DeHays was an eager salesman who offered vivid descriptions.

When peddling World War II dog tags that had been recovered from a wreck, he pointed out the blood, fire and fuel stains on the metal, calling the markings “very powerful items that witness the violence of the crash.”

On another dog tag, he texted a potential buyer that the item was “salty” or visibly war-damaged while also marketing the “partially burned” appearance of a Red Cross identification card from the same era.

But DeHays failed to mention one important detail in his sales pitches on eBay and by other means. The war relics he was hawking were government property, items he plundered during visits to the National Archives just outside of Washington, D.C., while leveraging his status as an expert on World War II. ...

DeHays is a native of Normandy, France, home of the famous D-Day operation that eventually liberated Western Europe. During his sentencing hearing in federal court in Greenbelt on Monday, he said he sold the relics partly to pay for an addiction to collecting war memorabilia and to acquire a collection for a museum he dreamed of running one day.

“At that time I saw it as a sacrifice I had to make if I wanted my dream to come true,” DeHays said. “It was irrational behavior and a lack of judgment that I regret every day.”

Read entire article at Bangor Daily News

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