Commonwealth Journal

April 29, 2013

New Jersey librarian tackling medal mystery

By BILL MARDIS, Editor Emeritus
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —

A librarian in Perth Amboy is searching historical records to see if she can determine how a World War 1 service medal presented by that New Jersey city ended up partially buried underground in a relatively remote wooded area in the Oil Center section of Pulaski County.
Vilma Novak, an aide at the Perth Amboy Free Public Library, and other members of the library staff said they are “fascinated” by the inscription on the medal: “Presented by the city of Perth Amboy to the boys who answered the call of 1917 U.S.A.”
The weather-worn but well-preserved medal was found last week by James E. Dodson, a retired lineman for South Kentucky RECC who lives at 1425 Thurman Road.
 “A storm went through my farm at Oil Center and knocked down some trees,” said Dodson. “I was out there cutting and removing some of the downed trees when I found the medal.”
  The medal was partially in the ground. “I first thought it was a piece of glass until I reached over and picked it up,” said Dodson. He took the medal home and his wife cleaned it with a toothbrush.
  Strangely, about 10 feet from where Dodson picked up the service medal, he found a Canadian penny. 
  “The closest house is about a quarter of a mile away,” said Dodson. “As far as I know, there never was a house on my farm where the service medal and penny were found.”
  Perth Amboy is a city in Middlesex County, New Jersey, a part of the New York metropolitan area. It has a population of nearly 51,000. Perth Amboy is known as the "City by the Bay," referring to Raritan Bay.
  Novak said she is searching old city records to see, if possible, when the city gave service medals to World War 1 veterans. “Maybe somebody from here moved to Pulaski County,” she suggested.
  Obviously, the service medals were awarded to residents of Perth Amboy who answered the call when the United States entered World War 1. World War I was a global war centered in Europe that began on July 28, 1914 and lasted until November 11,1918. The United States entered the war in April 1917.
 (If any of our readers has a relative who served in World War I and was honored by the city of Perth Amboy, please contact Bill Mardis at 451-4919).