For more than three decades, Fox News' "War Stories" host Oliver North has been actively looking for his stolen dress sword, which was issued to him upon his graduation in 1968 from the U.S Naval Academy, and stolen from him in 1980.
After 32 years and several different "owners," the sword came to the team on Discovery Channel's "Auction Kings." From there, the team embarked on a journey to reunite North with the sword, which carries a strong emotional attachment for him.
In an episode of "Auction Kings," which airs May 31, North was finally reunited with the sword. He took some time to chat with Fox411 about the experience and why the timing of the episode means more to him than ever.
Fox411: Tell me about what the sword meant to you as a soldier.
Oliver North: Well, I think anyone who lost something that was treasured to them can identify with what I went through. The sword was presented to me on the day of my graduation from the Naval Academy in 1968. I cut our wedding cake with it and have worn it in countless ceremonies and moments with my wife and children.
It was stolen in 1980. It wasn’t about the value – I think it cost about $450 or $500 then. But it wasn’t about being expensive, this was something that was a part of who I am and a part of your identity.
Fox411: Take us through what happened when it was stolen in 1980.
ON: I was being transferred from my station in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina to Newport, Rhode Island and they come in and pack everything up for you. One entire wardrobe containing some of my uniforms and my sword didn’t arrive in Newport. It just disappeared somehow off the bus. We filed insurance claims and the necessary paperwork but didn’t have success locating it.
Periodically, I’d hear about it over the years. Someone would write me a note saying they had heard about someone having it. But I never did manage to track it down until it showed up on “Auction Kings.”
Fox411: The “Auction Kings” team initially tried unsuccessfully to reach you last year, when the sword was first brought in, correct?
ON: Yes, the folks at Gallery 63, who appear on “Auction Kings,” had the sword come to them last fall. They went through an authentication process and tried to reach out to me immediately, but I was out of the country. So a collector bid on it and won.
Then a classmate of mine sent me a really funny e-mail when the episode with my sword aired. He joked about my work saying, “I didn’t realize how tough it had gotten for you guys in television.” You know, the kind of jokes that only an old buddy can stick to you.
Well, to make a long story short, the “Auction Kings” and Discovery Channel team said, “let’s see if we can get this reunited with him” and we filmed the process for an upcoming episode.
Fox411: What was it like meeting the man who had bid on your sword?
ON: Oh, he was a nice, decent guy and a collector. No one I have met in this process was anything short of great. Everyone was looking to help me get my sword back, which I really appreciated.
Fox411: How was the moment when you were reunited with the sword?
ON: Well, I’m not so connected to material things, but what I really felt was an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Because it’s not really about the sword, it’s about the sentimental connection to it. Every one of us that graduated that day had our swords measured to fit us in a centuries old tradition. Some of my buddies and my fellow graduates from that class are gone now, so it was good to have it back.
Fox411: And the timing of the episode coincides with a key moment in history?
ON: Yes, the episode airs right after Memorial Day, and this year it coincides with the 50-year Anniversary of the Vietnam War. What’s neat about this story coming out now is that it’s a Vietnam era sword. Every marine that was commissioned that day, 88 of us, on June 6,1968 – everyone had a sword. Some are buried with their swords, some have passed on. It has a very special meaning to all of us, so it’s a great tribute to all those soldiers who served. So between the timing and getting it back to me, the experience has been just great.
“Auction Kings” airs on its new night and time, Thursdays from 9-10 p.m. EDT on Discovery Channel.