Clerbout posted the pictures in an online history forum. He got a reply from the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C., which said Wilkins joined the military on Dec. 31, 1942, in Fort Bragg, N.C.
Clerbout became a man with a mission: finding Willie Wilkins.
His quest to help an American soldier was personal. Clerbout's father was a prisoner in Germany from June 1940 until the camp was liberated in 1945. He returned to France with American troops and married Clerbout's mother.
Clerbout sent emails to anyone he thought could help, from the White House to media outlets. A woman from the U.S. Department of Veteran's affairs in Minneapolis located Willie Wilkins in Newark.
Carol Wilkins thought the phone call was a prank. It was the woman from Minneapolis, asking for her father's honorable discharge number because someone found his dog tag.
Carol Wilkins didn't believe the woman and insisted on calling her back. The call was legitimate.
"I said, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy," she said, "They found your dog tags."
The GI Go Fund, a Newark nonprofit that connects veterans with services and helps them make the transition to civilian life, brought them to New Jersey.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker presented the Wilkinses with the dog tag on Wednesday, Victory in Europe Day. Bertrand Lortholary, the Consul General of France, attended.
Carol Wilkins plans to display the tag in a case on her father's dresser. Willie Wilkins has been in a rehabilitation facility and suffers from Alzheimer's disease and other ailments.
When asked if he ever thought he would see his dog tag again, Willie Wilkins shook his head.
"I never did," he said.