ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A man cleaning up an empty building near the University of New Mexico made an odd discovery: the headstone of a World War II veteran.
Gene Medrano said he went inside for a drink of water while cleaning up what’s left of an old tattoo parlor near Central and Yale last week.
He said he has been in the cleaning business for about 30 years, but this was a first.
He found a headstone honoring a World War II veteran named Dorman Smith.
“I was shocked as a matter of fact. I was really taken aback, got a little emotional,” Medrano said.
He had no idea how it got there or how long it had been there but he said the date on the headstone is what first caught his eye.
“My first concern was that he was born when my mother was, and it brought me a little closer. I just felt like-wow, we never know, they may have crossed paths,” Medrano said. “We just don’t know.”
Now, he is on a mission to make sure it gets to its rightful owner.
“My mother passed away a few years back, and I know this is something she would want me to do,” he said. “Let’s get this to the right place.”
Medrano said he also felt another connection to this mystery man.
“It was an emotional moment for me, being a veteran,” Medrano said. “Coming back from Vietnam, no one cared about us. They called us, ‘baby killers.’ They called us, ‘war mongers.’”
He doesn’t want this veteran to be tossed aside.
“It does represent somebody. It represents history, and this man played his part,” Medrano said.
A search online turned up a photo posted five years ago of that same headstone at its gravesite.
The post said it was at Melrose Memorial Cemetery near Portales.