Davis search captured imaginations of Roachdale residents

Sunday, February 21, 2016
World War II Pfc. Thomas E. Davis survived bloody fighting on Saipan only to die during the battle for Okinawa nearly a year later. (Courtesy David Hollingsworth via AP)

ROACHDALE -- Sometimes the business of the day must be set aside.

That was the case recently for the Roachdale clerk-treasurer and hardware store owner/de facto town historian.

When an Associated Press reporter called Clerk-Treasurer Debbie Sillery, she tried to point him in the right direction, but started doing her own research.

The reporter was researching Pfc. Thomas E. Davis, a Roachdale native who died in World War II in 1945 and whose dog tag was recently found on a Pacific island. (See story here.)

The goal was to find the Davis family and get the tag back to them.

"So I called down to the hardware because everything in Roachdale runs through the hardware," Sillery said.

Charlie Riggle of Riggle's Roachdale Hardware also started searching.

"That morning when Debbie called me, I put aside the work of the hardware and that's all I concentrated on," he said.

So it began, working the phones, searching the Internet, even consulting "The Red Bible," as Riggle calls the Roachdale School history book.

Sillery discovered that the Keck family of Roachdale was related to Davis. Casey Keck, a great-nephew, got the name and number of a family member in Texas.

There are also locals who recall Davis, including Lester Ronk, who shared with Riggle his memories the family.

"What's amazing is there are still people alive who remembered," Riggle said. "Five years from now that might not have been the case."

The efforts were fruitful, as the AP made contact with two half-sisters, and plans are in place to get the dog tag to the family.

Sillery has received calls and visits at Town Hall from folks checking back on the story.

"They'll be tickled to know it's getting to the right people," she said.

That was the goal all along.

"We were determined one way or another that the dog tag was going to get back where it needed to be."

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  • What an awesome story! Great job on the research!

    -- Posted by Queen53 on Mon, Feb 22, 2016, at 7:52 AM
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