After a year and a half behind barbed wire as a prisoner in World War II, 2nd Lt. David C. Cox had just about reached his breaking point.
Deliveries of Red Cross parcels to Stalag VII-A had all but ceased, and the U.S. Army bomber co-pilot and his fellow POWs were subsisting on scanty rations of bug-infested soup and bread. Outside the wire, Adolf Hitler’s forces showed no signs of giving up.
Cold and hungry, the North Carolinian made a difficult decision. He slipped the gold aviator’s ring — a gift from his parents — off his finger and passed it through a fence to an Italian POW, who handed back a couple of chocolate bars.
He would never again see the ring. But it did not disappear.
Last week, about a dozen family members and friends gathered in the living room of David C. Cox Jr.’s Raleigh home and watched as he slit open a small yellow parcel from Germany. The 67-year-old son dug through the crinkly packing material and carefully removed a little plastic box.