Academic journal article Parameters

A Well-Traveled Class Ring Comes Home. (from the Archives)

Academic journal article Parameters

A Well-Traveled Class Ring Comes Home. (from the Archives)

Article excerpt

While US Army Technical Sergeant James Gordon Deaton was suffering frostbite and German shelling in surrounded Bastogne, Belgium, his high school class ring was in the tropical Pacific Theater with the Marines. Deaton had loaned the ring, from Tennessee's Carter High School, class of 1940, to the man who would become his brother-in-law, Lee Burnette. Before the United States entered World War II, Deaton and Bumette had gone together to enlist in the Navy, but Deaton was turned down because of colorblindness. Burnett was assigned to the battleship Oklahoma. Sometime in 1941 he lost the ring in a shipboard dice game.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor and sinking of the Oklahoma, which killed 415 of her crew, Deaton assumed the ring had gone down with ship, or was on the finger of some anonymous sailor. He enlisted in the Army in 1943 and served with the 755th Field Artillery Battalion throughout the European Theater. After the war, Burnette stayed in the Navy, Deaton returned to Tennessee, and the ring was mostly forgotten. But in 1960, the secretary at Carter High School called Deaton to say his ring was being returned. Deaton thought salvage divers had recovered it from the Oklahoma wreckage or from a dead sailor's body. …

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