Class ring lost by WWII vet 73 years ago returned to family

AUDUBON, N.J. (AP) — The family of a deceased World War II veteran from New Jersey has been reunited with his 1938 class ring, lost 73 years ago while he was serving in the South Pacific.

This Aug. 31, 2016, photo provided by John Hocknull shows deceased World War II veteran Edward J. Dodds' 1938 class ring from Audubon High School in Audubon, N.J., lost more than 70 years ago while he served in the South Pacific and unearthed in 2013 by Liam Ngahan in a farmer's field in Papua New Guinea. Dodds' five children, the mayors of Audubon, N.J., and Runnemede, N.J., and a VFW honor guard were among nearly 50 people gathered Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, at Audubon High School for the ceremonial return of the ring. (John Hocknull via AP)
This Aug. 31, 2016, photo provided by John Hocknull shows deceased World War II veteran Edward J. Dodds’ 1938 class ring from Audubon High School in Audubon, N.J., lost more than 70 years ago while he served in the South Pacific and unearthed in 2013 by Liam Ngahan in a farmer’s field in Papua New Guinea. Dodds’ five children, the mayors of Audubon, N.J., and Runnemede, N.J., and a VFW honor guard were among nearly 50 people gathered Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, at Audubon High School for the ceremonial return of the ring. (John Hocknull via AP)

Nearly 50 people gathered Thursday at Audubon High School for the ceremonial return of Edward J. Dodds’ ring after it was discovered in Papua New Guinea in 2013. Dodds’ five children were at the ceremony, along with a VFW honor guard and the mayors of Audubon and Runnemede.

“There’s not really one emotion that describes this,” said Richard Dodds, the son of Edward Dodds. “I think it’s great for the grandkids and some great-grandkids to be connected to the past and the generation before this.”

Edward Dodds died in 1996. Richard Dodds, 52, said his father often joked about losing the ring because it was engraved with the wrong initials, EDD.

According to Audubon Alumni Association vice president Mike Bruzzese, the ring was unearthed in a farmer’s field by Liam Ngahan, who wore it for several years before showing it to John Hocknull, a friend.

In this Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017 photo, the children of Edward Dodds, back row, from left, all Dodds: Ed, 60; Rich, 52; and Lynn, 49, front row from left: Herb, Sr., 67 and Warren, 65, pose with their father's 1938 class ring from Audubon High School during a ceremony at the school in Audubon, N.J. A more than 70-year journey brought the ring back from Papua New Guinea after it was lost during World War II. (Tom Gralish/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
In this Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017 photo, the children of Edward Dodds, back row, from left, all Dodds: Ed, 60; Rich, 52; and Lynn, 49, front row from left: Herb, Sr., 67 and Warren, 65, pose with their father’s 1938 class ring from Audubon High School during a ceremony at the school in Audubon, N.J. A more than 70-year journey brought the ring back from Papua New Guinea after it was lost during World War II. (Tom Gralish/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Believing the ring belonged to an American soldier, Hocknull researched it online and was able to locate the Camden County school nearly 9,000 miles away. The ring was eventually returned to the Dodds family by Hocknull’s niece, who lives in Woodbury.

“I was delighted to be a part of this,” Hocknull told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “It brought the Dodds family back together in a practical way, and I think brought a lot of pleasure to people.”

 

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