CHESAPEAKE, Va. -- Navy veteran Howard Weightman thought he would never see his college ring ever again. He said he lost it aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower when he was stationed at Naval Station Norfolk in 2003.
The ring represents Weightman's time at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. He attended the school from 1996 to 2000.
"Being able to graduate and to graduate from that school, it was such a great honor," Weightman told News 3 by phone.
He took that ring with him when he joined the Navy and arrived at Naval Station Norfolk. When he realized the ring was missing, he tried looking for it frantically.
“I flipped all the mattresses; I couldn’t find it anywhere," he said. "I searched to the point where we had to leave the ship.”
He now lives in Jacksonville, Florida. Meanwhile, the ring resurfaced in Chesapeake - 15 years later.
Shay Duncan, an English teacher at Western Branch Middle School, said she found the ring inside the lost-and-found cabinet in the school's main office.
“Sometimes we find retainers, there could be a cellphone in there. For me, it was my earring what I was looking for," Duncan said. "I never found the earring, but I think I found something better.”
Duncan said she first thought it belonged to a high school student or parent living locally. It is not known how the ring ended up at the school.
Duncan posted pictures of the ring on the "Everything Western Branch" Facebook group to see if it belonged to anyone. Patricia Martin, a member of the group, saw Duncan's post and wanted to help.
“You see it on the news, you see them on Facebook - 'So-and-so lost their ring, can you help find it?'" Martin said. "I just thought it would be nice to try to help out. There was a lot of information available: His name, the graduation date, the school.”
The story hit close to home for Martin. She said she lost her wedding ring and was never able to find it.
With the limited amount of information-- the name, graduation year and school name are engraved on the ring-- Martin began to search on Google. She said she contacted the college through Facebook to see if they had records on Weightman, but did not get a reply.
Martin said she then found his name listed on a college alumni newsletter and then a graduate program list in Florida. That is when she said she identified his location and found him on Facebook.
Martin added she provided him the school's phone number to get in contact with the school secretary. Their efforts and detective-like work left Weightman grateful.
“To put in the extra work when they didn’t have to and to reach out to me and find me after so long and to return this ring," Weightman explained, "it just means the world to me. That’s just what really good people are all about.”
Weightman said he offered to pay for the shipping, but the school picked up the tab.