Missing POW ring returned to family years later

CREATED Aug 21, 2013

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Raleigh, NC (KTNV) -- For many people, objects can carry deep meaning. So when a long-lost ring belonging to an American pilot was returned to his family, the memories came flooding back.

After 1.5 years behind barbed wire as a prisoner in World War II, 2nd Lieutenant David C. Cox had just about reached his breaking point.

He and his fellow POW's were running out of options and fast. They were already eating food laced with mold and insects.

His desperation led him to trade his gold ring for a few chocolate bars, smuggled in by an Italian POW. He was sure he'd never see the jewelry again.

Later, a replica was made for him, but years after his death, his family was sent the real deal.

"He probably told the story to me twice, maybe three times at the most. I think he was very remorseful that he'd done it. And although the replica ring is every bit as detailed and inscribed exactly as the original, it still wasn't the original," explained David C. Cox, Jr.

War experts said the ring was likely traded several times, until it ended up with a Russian soldier who in turn, gave it to a woman in exchange for room and board.

It then ended up with a Russian boy, who told the story to some American tourists who vowed to find the owner.

Even though Cox passed away in 1994, his 67-year-old son said he'll keep the treasure close to his heart.