Guardsman, accused of stealing WWII Airmen’s dog tags from National Archives…

| August 15, 2019

national archives
A Virginia National Guard sergeant is accused of stealing World War II-era dog tags from the National Archives and Records Administration in Bethesda, Maryland. The dog tags belonged to four Army Air Forces airmen killed in plane crashes in 1944. (Michael Kunzelman/AP)

…says he was returning them to families

One of our ninjas found this little gem, about a misguided Guardsman pilfering WWII relic dog tags, ostensibly for returning them to the families of the fallen. It’s an interesting background story, too, about how the dog tags were recovered in the first place. Read on:

By: Michael Kunzelman

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — A Virginia National Guard sergeant, accused of stealing World War II-era dog tags from the National Archives and Records Administration in Maryland, says he did it to return them to their families.

Robert Rumsby, 29, of Fredericksburg, Virginia, told investigators he took dog tags that belonged to four U.S. Army Air Forces airmen killed in plane crashes in 1944, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court last month.

Rumsby’s wife is the great niece of one of the deceased airmen. Rumsby said he gave that airman’s dog tags to his wife’s grandmother as a Christmas gift and gave another airman’s dog tags to a relative of that serviceman.

The complaint charges Rumsby with theft of public records. He has an Aug. 14 trial date at the federal courthouse in Greenbelt, Maryland.


The College Park facility stores thousands of dog tags that were collected by the German Luftgaukommandos, which prepared reports on Allied aircraft crashes during World War II.

Those methodical Germans and their records. So was Rumsby stealing artifacts that belong to the entire Nation, or returning private property held by the government? Tough call. Thanks to our ninjas, you know who you are.

Read the entire article here: Air Force Times

Category: Air Force, Guest Link, Maryland

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Forest Green

The archives should have returned them long ago.


People tend to throw these things away if they don’t place any value on them.

I want mine buried with me. They’re on my keychain with my house key, in case I have an accident on the road. If they aren’t buried with me, they’ll get tossed out.


Mine are in the safe. They have my SSAN on them from when they changed from Service number circa 1970.
They even put it on award citations for all to see.

Claw is the supply expert. He would know what to do.


Ex, You’re spot on. I know a woman who runs a WWII Engineering forum and this comes up every now and then. Stories of someone who was offered dog tags or something similar of an actual relative (perhaps even father) and the person to whom they are offered say they don’t want them. I would take them and value them and I don’t even know the person! She and I (and probably most here) don’t frigging get it.

As to the subject of the story, it’s a coin toss. If he didn’t keep any, it may be an issue of good initiative, bad judgement. The more he did it, the more I would tend toward “you’re starting to just be a bad dude, man”. Work through the system – point out the problem (I didn’t know this was an issue) and see what you can do about fixing it. If he kept any, well then he’s just a douche.

Since, my friend would fit right at home here and her forum is in the ballpark of this one, I don’t feel bad about posting links to it. Let me know if I’ve over stepped.

The forum:

The main site:

Her dad was in the the same regiment (although other battalion) my grandfather served in. It was the 540th Engineer Combat Regiment.


I just wanted to make sure since they weren’t [i]directly[/i] related to the article. Thanks.

[The website is great if you are looking for info on WWII engineers, by the way!!]


Some more interesting information on this story and Robert Rumsby: “National Guard Soldier Charged and Banned From National Archives Over Taking of WWII Dog Tags” *In 2009, Rumsby was an Army Second Lieutenant. He later resigned his Commission to enlist in hopes of one day serving as a Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. *He and his wife have been banned temporarily from the Archives. She has not been charged with a crime but is listed in the affidavit for being with him on the day that he stole the dog tag of her relative. * He posted a photo online of a Shadow Box honoring the service of Airman Theodore Ream that was on display in the home of his wife’s grandmother (Picture is in the article). The Shadow Box featured a dog tag that he took from the National Archives. The photo helped lead investigators with the National Archives to Rumsby and four missing World War II Dog Tags. Ream’s Dog Tag was later returned to the Archives. * Another Dog Tag given to the nephews of James McKee by Rumsby was also returned to the Archives. One of the nephews spent 23 years in the Marines and the Marine Corps Reserve and had his Uncle’s tag on display in a special room of his South Carolina home. *All of the Dog Tags that Rumsby took were collected from Germany at the end of the war as part of the records of Luftgaukommando, the regional German Air Force command that prepared reports on Allied aircraft and aircrews shot down or that crashed. * Rumsby said he still believes it is a family’s right to take ownership of a servicemember’s dog tags once remains have been identified and is now looking for legal means to return the stolen tags to the families. Part of his argument stems from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s policy to return any items found with remains as they are located and identified. *Rumsby original trial date of this past Wednesday, 13 August 2019, has been postponed until 30 October 2019:… Read more »




Good Idea Fairy

Speaks for itself.

Dennis - not chevy

The pathway to hell is paved with good intentions. If the Sergeant was thinking, “Hey these are personal, meaningful, and should be returned to the nearest of kin” fine; but, he should have gone through the system. Had the system turned him down, he could have made a federal case of it. Now he’s the federal case.


Literally stealing valor.

Would the archives not give them to NOK if they asked? I feel like they should have been returned to family 70 years ago.


Dumbass had a very honorable idea executed in an in incredibly stupid and illegal manner. May I be the first in line to slap the stupid out of him?

5th/77th FA

Line forms here ‘D. You KNOW how that whole first thing appeal works with the TAH Wide World of Sports HQs. Bring Coldbeer from the Catinna, I’ve got nachos and cheese dip.

Homeboy is eat up with teh stoopid.

Comm Center Rat

“Rumsby later resigned his commission to enlist in hopes of one day serving as a guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.”

Here’s hoping The Old Guard remains vigilant and never lets this thief dishonor the tomb sentinels.


Lima Beans, they changed the ID on the dog tags again. It no longer lists your SS# but your DOD id number on your CAC Card


As long as they get the blood type correct I’m good.

Club Manager

You would think some high paid bureaucrat would have a BFO (i.e., blinding flash of the obvious) and have this guy form an association of volunteers to return the dog tags to families rather than store them at tax payer expense forever.


“They were serving Stupid Soup, and you went and ate the whole pot!”


Didn’t we learn just a few years ago that it’s OK to stick classified information in your socks and walk out with it, so why is returning property to families a big deal???

(Really? Someone out there needs for that to be ID’d as sarc? OK. Here ya go.)