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Buried gold: Class ring dug up in Argentia returned to Vietnam vet 50 years later

Buried gold: Class ring dug up in Argentia returned to Vietnam vet 50 years later
From CBC - February 15, 2018

With the sweep of a metal detector, a Newfoundland man uncovered a long lost possession that is now being returned to its owneran American Vietnam War veteran once stationed in Argentia.

After hours of finding nothing more than old pop cans and nails near a beach in early February, Ralph Dawe was ready to give up treasure hunting for the day.

That is, until his device started beeping.

"All of a sudden, I hit this solid, beautiful signal," said Dawe.

"So I decided to dig it, and when I dug, it was my first gold ring ... I seen the yellow, then I seen the stone, then I could tell that I actually had something good."

The gold ring was only about two inches under the soil on a large grassy bank near a beach overlooking Placentia Bay.

American class ring from 1966

The ring gold, with a rectangular red stonehad the year 1966 engraved in it, along with a crest and the name of a school.

The letters "HWW" were carved inside.

Unlike most treasures dug up decades after they are buried, the ring had just enough clues on it to encourage Dawe to try to track down the owner.

Dawe found the name of the school in Belchertown, Massachusetts and then found a list of graduates from 1966.

He skimmed through the names, searching for someone with the initials HWW.

When he saw the name Henry William Whidden, he knew he had found the owner.

"I decided to give him a call and low and behold, he answered," said Dawe.

"I told him some of the things about the ring and then he told me other things about the ring and bang, we had a match."

Uncovered ring 'a complete surprise'

The phone calland the ringcame as "a complete surprise" to Henry Whidden, who now lives in Florida.

"It was completely 50 years old [and] out of my mind," said Whidden, during a phone interview while the ring was en route to him.

"I said, the last time I saw that ring, it was on my Newfoundland girlfriend's finger in 1968, before I shipped out to Vietnam."

Whidden had been stationed at Naval Air Station Argentia for 18 months before going to Vietnam. On the day he was shipped off to war, he took the ring off his finger and handed it to his girlfriend.

Ring 'only piece of my history pre-Vietnam'

Ring may offer healing

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