BLUE MOUNTAIN BEACH — Credit divine intervention, says Rob Read.
That's the only thing the Ohio man says can explain his decision to wade into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico on the last morning of his family's September vacation. And that, in turn, is the only reason he found a Marine Corps ring, nearly buried in the sand as the surf washed back and forth above it.
"Something pulled me out there to scoop down and grab it," said Read. "I think God led me out there."
Read and his family have been vacationing along Walton County Highway 30A for years, always in the Adagio condominium complex. And Read always closes out his family's time at the beach with one final solo walk along the sand before heading back to Ohio. But he never, ever — until this year — walked out into the water, he said.
"I went out to where the water was up to my knees," he said. "I saw something — it looked like a shell — so I scooped it up, and said, 'Oh,my God, it's a ring!"
The ring has some inscriptions, including a first name, on the inside of the band, but Read is hesitant to widely share any of the information, out of concern that the ring might not wind up with its rightful owner.
"If I share (even) the first letter of the name, somebody might guess it," he said.
Read did, though, share photos of the inside of the ring with the Northwest Florida Daily News, which is making efforts to identify and locate the ring's owner.
For now, Read is keeping the ring. Before leaving for Ohio, he shared information on the find with local law-enforcement officials, and he also talked with Marines at a local recruiting office.
But the major focus of Read's efforts to reunite the ring with its owner is his Facebook page at Facebook.com/rob.read.rr, where he posted a photo of the ring and a message shortly after he found it.
"I found this USMC ring in the ocean near Adagio on Santa Rosa Beach," he wrote. "There is wording inscribed on the inside specific to the owner and I would love to have it returned. Please help by sharing this post."
Since Sept. 15, the post has been shared more than 30,000 times, and has garnered more than 900 comments indicating that the word has gone out from Hawaii to California to Missouri to Texas to Minnesota to the state of New York.
"I've never found anything like this before," Read said. "I'm just hoping I will find the owner."