A very special bracelet, lost nearly 70 years ago in Okinawa, has found its way back to its owner, Neal Moberly, 87, of Ahwahnee.
In 1945, before Moberly shipped-out to Okinawa near the end of WWII, his parents presented him with a stainless steel, gold plated bracelet.
"My parents were always very loving and they knew I was going overseas," said Moberly, who was 17 when he enlisted in the United States Navy. The Yeoman Third Class Moberly was enjoying a day of nice weather while stationed in Okinawa. Moberly, who was 18 years old at the time, enjoyed swimming and on his first swim in Okinawa,, he swam to a buoy and realized the bracelet, engraved with his full name, Neal Moberly, Jr., as well as his military ID number, were gone.
"I didn't notice it being missing until I climbed up on the buoy about a quarter of a mile out," Moberly said.
He only had the bracelet about six weeks when he lost it.
"The clip probably just came loose," Moberly said.
His parents had come from Ohio to California to present the bracelet to Moberly just before he was to leave for Okinawa.
"On Aug. 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped and on Aug. 9, the last one was dropped and that was when the Japanese surrendered," Moberly recalled the time period when he was in Okinawa.
It was Staff-Sergeant Daniel Harp, a member of the United States Air Force stationed at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, who found the bracelet in the summer of 2013 while hunting for treasure with his metal detector on Ishikawa Beach. On a blog site for treasure hunters, Harp saw that there was an organization, Angelo's Angels Dog Tag Return.
Harp contacted the organization and Francesca Cumero researched the information found on the bracelet finding a Neal Moberly who lived in Ahwahnee, California. Another volunteer in Fresno, Hilary Wycoff, also helped in returning the bracelet to Moberly on Mar. 14, 2014.
Still another local person, Ahwahnee Postmaster Patti Kascht, was a part of the process of tracking Moberly down. She could not give out personal information about Moberly, but since she knew the family personally, she asked son, Kevyn, if a family member had lost a bracelet in Okinawa. The final connection to Neal was complete.
After the war, Moberly attended college and then went back to work for the Navy as a civilian engineering technician and retired from that position. He also got his general contractor's license and built many homes in southern California.
He served as the administrator of the Bible Fellowship Church in Ventura for 10 years. He taught a construction class the first year Yosemite High School opened. The class built several portable storage buildings for use on the campus.
Neal and Wanda, his wife of 66 years, reside on the Worman homestead in Ahwahnee. Their home was the Worman stagecoach stop on the way to Yosemite. They are only the second owners of the property that was originally owned by Daniel D. and Ruby Worman. President Woodrow Wilson signed the Worman's homestead papers on Sept. 24, 1920. The Worman mill, designated a National Historic Site, still stands on the property.
The Moberly's have three children, 12 grandchildren, and 19 great grandchildren.
Son Kevyn and his wife, Lina, also live in Ahwahnee. The Moberly's daughters are Robyn Welch and Karyn Mann.