With the help of kind strangers, a Flowery Branch man has found the daughter of the sailor who lost his World War II dog tag at Green Street Pool in Gainesville.
Mark Whipkey said in a story that ran in The Times on Tuesday that he was searching for Raymond Francis Cherpak, or his family, after finding the object while sweeping a metal detector across a grassy area at the now-closed pool last month.
Cherpak's name and other identifying information, including his U.S. Navy service, are etched on the small oval object.
Early Tuesday, calls poured in from people who conducted Internet searches and ran across potential leads.
"It's been totally overwhelming, in a good way," said Whipkey, a metal detector enthusiast. "I never, for a second, expected the type of response that we got. It's blown my mind."
Tips from people who had seen the article led Whipkey to Cherpak's daughter, Angela Kishbaugh, a Pennsylvania schoolteacher.
She told Whipkey she was an only child and that her father, who died in 2004, "never really talked much about the military, other than she knew that he had been in World War II."
Whipkey said that Kishbaugh, who couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday, said that, "from what she understood ... her father was a pilot."
During World War II, the U.S. Navy used what is now Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville as an airfield to train personnel in ground-controlled approach procedures.
The structures were decommissioned in 1947 and returned to Gainesville.
The Green Street pool opened in 1931 as City Park Swimming Pool and was a community hot spot, Gainesville resident Alley Terrell said Tuesday.
Her husband, Joe, a lifeguard at the pool during the 1940s, said he recalled soldiers, particularly from military installations in Dahlonega and Toccoa, frequenting the pool.
The city of Gainesville closed the pool in the summer of 2009 for budgetary reasons - the site needed repairs that would have cost between $500,000 and $750,000.
Sheena Delazio, a reporter with The Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., spoke with Kishbaugh'smother, Patricia Cherpak, on Tuesday about the dog tag discovery.
"I was shocked and stunned," Cherpak told the newspaper. "I couldn't get over it. My daughter couldn't get over it."
Cherpak said her husband didn't talk much about his time in the service, but she did know he did some training in the South.
The couple married in 1972.
Raymond "Bill" Cherpak was 76 when he died in January 2004. His obituary gives only brief mention about his military service.
Whipkey said he "would love nothing better ... than to be able to personally hand (the dog tag) back to (the family)," but that he would mail it as soon as possible.
Patricia Cherpak told The Times Leader she is eager to get it back.
The dog tag is more than an object from the past, after all.
"It's a piece of him," she said.