A lost wedding ring will strike anxiety in the heart of any spouse, usually launching a panic-filled hunt that involves turning over all the couch cushions and retracing every step to find that symbol of a union.
And when Kimberly Vaughn noticed the wedding band of her late husband Aaron Vaughn -- a Navy SEAL killed during a military attack in Afghanistan this past August -- was missing, the 36-year-old widow took her search a step further: She launched a Facebook campaign to find it.
"It's not a very valuable piece of jewelry, but it's invaluable sentimental wise," said Vaughn, who noticed the ring was gone while flying Saturday from Houston to Washington, D.C. She created the Facebook page, "Find Aaron Vaughn's Wedding Band," last week to try to recover the flat-edged, brush-finished silver ring with her name inscribed inside. The ring is pictured in a photo on their child's foot on the Facebook page.
Since then, more than 4,500 people have viewed the page.
"It's just such a great outlet to get to people I don't know," Vaughn said. "You never know if there is an airline stewardess or someone on an airline cleaning crew who saw it."Vaughn, who lives in Virginia Beach, Va., was visiting family in Deer Park and left the Super 8 motel she was staying at around 8:30 that morning for George Bush Intercontinental Airport. She returned a rental car at the airport before going through security and boarding her flight.
She said she knew she still had the ring, which she wore on her right thumb, when she left the hotel. Her father, who was traveling with her, told her he recalls her wearing it during the first leg of their flight.
It wasn't until she was on a connecting flight from Charlotte, N.C., to Washington, that she realized the ring was missing.
"I just started crying," Vaughn said. She frantically searched through seat cushions, cracks -- one flight attendant even helped her dismantle a seat.
After the plane landed, she asked other passengers disembarking if they had seen it.
Maybe in Charlotte
While she's not sure exactly where the ring slipped off, she's fairly confident it might have been at the Charlotte airport. She recalls stopping at a restroom and a TCBY yogurt shop before boarding her flight.
Vaughn said the support and advice she has received from Facebook commenters have been helpful.
Thursday marked two months since 30-year-old Aaron Vaughn's death. He was one of 30 Americans and 17 Navy SEALs who were killed when the military transport helicopter they were traveling in was shot down by insurgents.
While Vaughn knows the ring is just a piece of metal, she sees her husband's wedding band as a special reminder of the love and commitment the couple shared. She hopes she can retrieve the ring, but knows her husband's memory will live on through their 2-year-old son, Reagan, and 4-month-old daughter, Chamberlyn.
"Luckily, I have a legacy in our children," she said. "And I can let them know what a wonderful father he was."
Anyone with information about the ring is urged to visit the Facebook page or to email Kimberly Vaughn at NavySEALring@gmail.com.