Co-op Manager’s WW II Dog Tag Brings Memories
Navopache Electric Cooperative General Manager Cletus “Mac” Eddy died more than eight years ago, but his life and military service were honored recently in an unusual ceremony involving the return of a long-lost dog tag.
A veteran’s assistance group returned the tag to Eddy’s family in a ceremony at the American Legion post in Casa Grande, Arizona. Local representatives from the Legion and Marine Corps also helped honor the Army Airman’s service in France from 1943-1945.
“The timing was perfect. It just had to be a sign from my dad that he was watching over us,” said Carol Nelson, Eddy’s daughter. Nelson was about to board a plane for Phoenix when she learned that someone found the tag on a street and gave it to Honoring, Hiring, Helping Our Heroes of Pinal County (HHOP). The group contacted Nelson’s daughter to see if the family wanted it.
“They thought I was trying to scam them. How would someone in Casa Grande, Arizona, have the dad’s dog tag? I would think the same thing, too,” said Kim Rodriguez, executive director of HHOP in Casa Grande.
As the story goes, a young man had found the identification tag—likely lost years ago in a house burglary—on the streets of Florence, Arizona. Not knowing Eddy or any of his relatives, the finder contacted HHOP for help in returning the tag to its rightful owner.
Rodriguez did some detective work and learned from a staff member for U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick that Eddy had died at 83 in 2008 in Sun City West, Arizona. Through Facebook, Rodriguez found Nelson’s daughter, notified her of the found dog tag and emailed a photo for verification.
“I found out that [the daughter] lived in Chandler, which is near Casa Grande,” said Rodriguez. “And then I learned that [Carol] was coming to the area. Everything just meshed together. It was meant to be.”
To add to the story’s “small world” flavor, Nelson also worked at Navopache Electric Co-op in Lakeside for 12 years before retiring in 2007.
The “amazing” ceremony was a fitting tribute to Eddy, “an innovator,” said Nelson. He began his utility career as a lineman at an Ohio electric co-op and was a later a manager at Navajo Tribal Utility Authority before joining running Navopache from 1976 to 1990.
“Mac,” as he was known, brought SCADA to the co-op in the late 1980s and other technological advancements. “We were one of the first and for a small co-op, it was pretty cutting-edge,” said Matt Chase, who began as a groundsman in 1982 and still works there today.
But above all, said Chase, he will always remember “Mac” as one of the guys. “Late at night, if we were working storm outages, he’d show up with sandwiches and coffee. His car got stuck in the snow, and we had to push him out. He came up through the ranks and he considered everyone his equal.”