AUDUBON, N.J. – 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.
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 Bruzzesse, 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.
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."