March 3rd, 2010, 13:40
Found West Point ring had mysterious journey
McCOMB, Miss. — This is a story about a lost ring that was returned to its owner.
This is no ordinary ring, and neither is the story of how it found its way back to its owner.
It’s the tale of a missing West Point class ring that was returned to its owner after being lost for more than five years, and there are some unusual twists.
It was lost in Alaska. It was found in a rural area of Pike County, Miss., where its owner has never visited. And a migratory bird, such as a goose or duck, may have helped with the ring’s return.
A 2003 U.S. Military Academy graduate, Army Capt. Alan Maszarose is stationed at Fort Jackson, S.C. He lost his ring on a firing range in 2004 while he was stationed at Camp Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska.
For West Point graduates, the class ring is more than just a symbol that they graduated college. It’s part of a tradition that goes back to the academy’s class of 1835. West Point was the first American college to have class rings.
The rings are distinctive. One side displays the academy crest, and the other side displays the class crest. The collar around the ring’s center stone displays the words “West Point” and the class year.
Several members of Maszarose’s family have also graduated from the academy.
When he discovered it was missing, Maszarose said, “I had no idea where it was. I tore up my office and my apartment. I couldn’t find it. I had given it up for lost.”
Fast forward to October 2009, when McComb resident Chuck Boothe was walking his dog along a gravel drive in rural Pike County.
“I saw something gold and picked it up,” Boothe said. “I had no idea what it was, so I took it home and washed it off.”
When he realized he had found a West Point ring, Boothe said, he called the West Point Alumni Association and got Maszarose’s name.
“I talked to a master sergeant at West Point,” Boothe said. “I told him I had found a West Point ring, gave him the initials on the ring and asked if they knew who the owner was. He told me he’d get back to me in four hours.”
The sergeant gave Boothe the telephone number of Maszarose’s father in Texas. The captain’s father called his son and told him that Boothe was going to call.
“He didn’t tell my why he [Boothe] was calling,” Maszarose said. “Then [Boothe] called me and told me he found my ring. I was pretty surprised. I thought I’d never see it again.”
The ring was soon back in Maszarose’s possession.
Maszarose said he has no idea how the ring got to Mississippi, but Boothe has a theory.
“It had to have been a migratory water fowl,” Boothe said. “They’ll pick up anything. I had a friend who killed a duck and found .22 [caliber] bullet casings in its stomach. I’ve seen other things in their stomachs they’ve picked up.
“I think a bird picked it up and dropped it here,” he said.
Russ Walsh, a biologist with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, said a migratory bird like a goose or duck may have swallowed the ring and later deposited it in Pike County.
“It’s not impossible, but it’s highly unusual,” he said. “It could have been a goose or a larger duck like a mallard or gadwall. It was probably out foraging for food on the range when it found it [the ring] and swallowed it, thinking it was food.
“These birds are not discriminatory in what they eat,” Walsh said. “Something shiny like a ring would have attracted its attention and it would have taken it. It picked it up and then lost it later as it was going southward.”
And, Walsh said, most geese and ducks migrating south from Alaska fly along the West Coast.
“That’s an unusual route [over Mississippi],” he said. “That’s very interesting.”
Regardless of how the ring got to Mississippi, Maszarose is glad to have it back. With the exception of a few nicks, he said, it’s in good shape.
And he’s taking precautions to see that he doesn’t lose it again.
“I’m not wearing it to work, and I’m only wearing it on ceremonial and special occasions,” he said. “I still can’t believe that it turned up after almost five years, and that it was found in Mississippi.”
March 3rd, 2010 13:40