Rock Island Arsenal – Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Forker was stationed at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, when he lost his Army Command Sgt. Major class ring in the waters off Waimea Bay Beach in the summer of 2018. After serving as the operations sergeant major with the 18th Medical Command, Hawaii, Forker assumed responsibility for the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center Troop Command, Landstuhl, Germany. This move, he made without his class ring.
Wayne Tadlock, a Joint Munitions Command quality assurance specialist ammunition surveillance, retired from the military in 2006. After 21 years in the Army, he retired as a Master Sgt., serving most of his time with the 82nd Airborne Division. Since 2007, Tadlock has worked as a Department of Defense Civilian, spreading his time between Redstone Arsenal, Ala., Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii, and Rock Island Arsenal, Ill.
During the summer of 2018, while serving at Wheeler Army Airfield on Oahu, Tadlock went to Waimea Bay Beach to metal detect. “In chest-deep water, my detector hit metal and I scooped up a ring,” said Tadlock. Tadlock believes the ring was in the water approximately one month. Tadlock was able to locate Forker in the Global Address List and make contact. The two exchanged phone calls and emails, then Tadlock returned the ring by mail to Forker.
Tadlock worked tirelessly for nearly two years to locate the owner of the ring and return it. He used Google and the Global Address List to search for names he could read engraved on the inside of the ring. Tadlock also used the class date on the ring to do research and attempt to find the owner; his only success was learning that more than 500 soldiers had graduated, but none of the names matched the names on the ring.
For those two years, Tadlock held the ring in a safe-deposit box. In March of 2020, he learned the price of gold was rising and decided to sell some gold he had on hand. He stumbled upon the Command Sgt. Maj. ring again in the safe-deposit box and decided to do more research in another attempt to find the owner. Tadlock discovered the letters AFORKER written on the side of the ring. “Being an Army retiree, I'm used to seeing Latin, French, or other words on insignia, flags, etc., and thought AFORKER meant something along those lines,” said Tadlock.
Forker awarded Tadlock with a Certificate of Appreciation “for demonstrating integrity and moral fiber worthy of recognition. Your actions are a reminder of the goodness that exists in the American people. Thank you for who you are.” In a letter to Tadlock, Forker thanked him for finding the ring and returning it. “While it might appear to be a simple piece of jewelry to many, this ring has significant meaning to me and represents a number of important things from throughout my military career,” the letter read. He also thanked Tadlock for his service to our nation and continued support to the warfighter.
“Bonds of friendship are built with peers from across the Armed Forces, but also those selected as the best of the best from partner nations. This network of classmates carries value throughout the rest of a Sergeant Major’s career. Losing your class ring from your graduating class would be heartbreaking. My ring has served as a reminder of many things; but most importantly, that I have been entrusted to serve our great nation and take care of our most important resource, our people,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Morrison, JMC.
Being selected for the U.S. Sergeant Major Academy is one of the most competitive schools for a non-commissioned officer. It means being recognized as a premier leader in our military. A Soldier trains for a year with peers in preparation to lead the military into the future.