Marine Sgt. Jared Hammonds risked his life to frantically search an Afghan poppy field for the wedding ring of Staff Sgt. Jeremy Smith, who was killed on the battlefield, in an effort to return it to Smiths’s widow, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Hammonds, 27, and Smith, 26, both served in Houston-based 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, also known as the Lone Star Battalion. Initial reports indicated they were mistaken for Taliban and killed by a missile fired from a U.S. Predator drone. The circumstances remain under investigation.

Smith died in southern Afghanistan on April 6, the day before his second wedding anniversary. Also killed was Navy corpsman Benjamin Rast, 23, from Michigan.

Smith’s wife, Rachel, learned the story of the recovered ring a few days after learning of her husband’s death.

"I would never in a million years ask anybody to do something like that, but in the same breath I'm very, very thankful," she told the paper.

Hammonds found the ring in the dirt that April morning in Afghanistan. He has no idea how long it took him. He lost all sense of time, he said.

His commander, Maj. Mark Wood, said the young man was completely exposed as he searched the field, presenting a perfect target for the Taliban who'd been shooting at the Marines that day.

"It's not only amazing what he did to try to find it," Wood said. "It's even more amazing that (he) found it."

It took a few days for the story to reach Rachel, who was stunned.

"It was luck," Hammonds said. He paused, then changed his mind.

It was Jeremy, he said. "It was him showing me where it is."

On Saturday, Jeremy's battalion returned home without him. Rachel went to Ellington Field to welcome the men back.

After everyone else had kissed and hugged and left the airfield, Hammonds and other Marines from her husband's platoon returned the ring to Rachel in a private ceremony, along with a journal Jeremy kept.

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