You just never know what you’re going to find in the Lost and Found box.
“About two years ago, a box of lost and found items needed to be sorted out, so we set to work,” explained Marianne Davis, who works for the Office of the Patient Experience at the Greater Los Angeles VA. “What with sending back IDs, shredding expired credit cards, etc., we finally got down to one ring.”
But this was no ordinary ring, according to Davis.
“It was something special, something important,” she said. “The inscription on it read, ‘Sunchon Tunnel Massacre, 1950 Korea, POW Survivor.’ And on the inside was a name, Walt Whitcomb.”
How the ring ended up in the lost and found box no one will ever know. But clearly this was an item that needed to be returned to its owner, pronto.
“Since Harry Corre in our Veteran Experience Office is an ex-POW himself, I asked Harry to look Mr. Whitcomb up and see if we could get his ring back to him,” Davis said. “Unfortunately, Mr. Whitcomb hadn’t been in for services for several years; Harry gave me a phone number and address, but the phone had been disconnected, and the letter we sent went unanswered.”
But Marianne Davis is no quitter. She was not about to give up.
“I locked the ring in my drawer and cruised the Internet,” she said. “No Facebook, no LinkedIn, but there was a Find-Your-Korean-War buddy type of site, and I entered my information about Mr. Whitcomb’s ring.”
Beneva Beamon, Marianne Davis and Harry Corre of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. Photo by Raymundo Arellano
A year went by, and nothing. Nada. Dead silence.
“Finally, I decided it was time to excess the ring,” Davis said. “I processed the paperwork and sadly gave the ring to Supply to deal with.”
It was at this moment that fate decided to intervene.
“The very next day my phone rang,” Davis said. “Mr. Whitcomb’s son, Dennis, who lives in Kansas, was calling about the ring! He was so amazed and moved that we still had it, as his father had passed away several years ago.”
“My first wife is the one who actually found the information on-line, then she told me about it,” said 57-year-old Dennis Whitcomb, an Army Veteran. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ So then I called Marianne. I think she was jumping just as high as I was.”
But hold on. Where was the ring now? Lost forever in the supply warehouse? Sitting in a filing cabinet somewhere, hidden away for all eternity?
“I ran over to Supply, hoping they could find it,” said Davis. “Fortunately I found Beneva Beamon who works for Acquisition and Material Management. Beneva did some sleuthing and finally found the ring, and it’s now on its way back to Mr. Dennis Whitcomb in Kansas City.”
Marianne Davis said her two year quest to find the ring’s owner just goes to show that persistence usually pays off in the end.
“Sometimes it takes a bit of work,” she said, “but we always strive to reconnect Veterans with their lost belongings.”
“I thank Marianne every time I talk to her,” said Dennis Whitcomb. “I’d been trying to find that ring for years.”