And the son of the late soldier, who fought in the South Pacific and lost his tag while serving at Guadalcanal, couldn't be more grateful.
"It's a good feeling to have it back home," said George Carter Jr., a former Fredericksburg policeman who lives in Stafford County. "I have very little that belonged to my father, fishing poles and tools and so forth. This is the top of the list."
How the dog tag found its way back to the Fredericksburg area is another example of what a small world it is, Carter said.
The story starts with Clinton Kempnich, a deputy director of education in Queensland, Australia.
He enjoys studying World War II history and recently received a box of items, including a brass dog tag, from a friend who had been a diver in the South Pacific.
Kempnich knew brass tags were issued early in the war, and that the owner probably enlisted about 1942.
Inscribed on the tag was "George B. Carter, 312 Amelia St., Fredericksburg, Va.," along with his blood type, serial number and next of kin.
Kempnich did a Google Earth search. His hopes sank when he saw the address on the dog tag is now a parking lot--or a "car park," as he called it. He also noticed the Free Lance-Star building nearby, and contacted Hilary Kanter, the letters editor at the newspaper.
She found a listing for George B. Carter Jr. in the phone book and called him, asking if the dog tag might have belonged to a relative. She also passed along each man's e-mail address to the other.
Carter had heard lots of war stories about his father's time in Burma and the South Pacific, where he worked in military transport. He often heard tales of caring for mules that were used to carry goods to hard-to-reach places. The elder Carter also talked about working with a man who was a veterinarian back in Fredericksburg.
But Carter hadn't heard anything about a missing dog tag. He told Kempnich he'd check with relatives.
"Regardless, thank you for taking the time to research this matter," Carter wrote Kempnich in an e-mail. "If this is my father's dog tag, I would be humbled and forever in your debt to have it returned."
Carter talked with his sister, who cared for their father for several years until his death in 2001. Carter learned that his father and mother, Blanche, had lived at the Amelia Street address when he entered the Army.
The blood type matched, and his father had lost his dog tag overseas.
In fact, the lack of identification was a problem when his father applied for veterans benefits. The brass tag was tangible proof of service at a time when the military "didn't keep the greatest records," Carter said.
Kempnich and Carter e-mailed each other several times. Kempnich mentioned he would be visiting friends in Philadelphia in September.
"It would be special if I could hand it to you instead of just posting it," Kempnich wrote.
Carter drove to Philadelphia last Sunday to get the tag. The meeting was emotional for both men.
Kempnich told Carter that his own father is 92 and served in the Royal Australian Air Force during Word War II. As much as he enjoys memorabilia from that era--and he and his son have a 1940s tank they drive in local parades--he believes personal items should always be returned to family members.
"I have a great appreciation of these guys and what they achieved," Kempnich said. "Alas, there are not many left now."