Myrtle man reunites with longtime friend through chance encounter

Former Myrtle resident J.E. Hicks got a surprise of a lifetime when he was able to reunite with a friend he hadn’t seen in 42 years. This was due to a chance encounter between Hicks and a truck driver.

Hicks grew up in Myrtle and when he was 21 years old, he entered the United States Army and was stationed in Fort Sill, Okla.

While at Fort Sill, Hicks became best friends with a man named Bobby Hunt who was from Kentucky. The two stayed friends while in the Army and in June 1969 Hunt’s parents bought him a brand new Pontiac GTO and drove it to him in Okla. In Nov. 1969, the Hicks and Hunt finished NCO school and Hunt drove them back in his GTO. He dropped Hicks off in Myrtle and they hadn’t spoken to each other since.

Little did Hicks know that he had accidentally left his Myrtle Class of 1965 class ring in the backseat of the car.

Recently, a man named David Taylor, a Wal-Mart driver from Kentucky, was at the New Albany Wal-Mart Distribution Center refueling his truck for a return trip to Kentucky.

“I drive for Swift and this guy was having problems with the fuel pump and we started talking and I asked him where he was from and he was from the same town that my old friend lived in. Bobby was from Morgantown, Ky. and this guy knew him,” said Hicks. “He had a cousin that was good friends with my friend. So I gave him my information and the next day I received a call from my friend and we talked for hours.”


“On our initial phone call, Bob said, ‘I’ve got something that I have been saving for you for 42 years. I’ve got your Myrtle Class of 1965 class ring.’ You’re kidding. I don’t even remember even leaving home with it. I just wrote it off as lost after all of these years without seeing it. You never know what will turn up,” said Hicks. “My friend said, ‘Do you want me to mail it to you?’ I said, no, I will come up there and get it.

After 42 years, these veterans were communicating by phone as if no time had passed. Hicks and his wife Linda traveled to Bowling Green, Ky. for a weekend visit with Hunt and his wife, Phyllis Hunt. 

The two were able to catch up and reminsce after all of these years.

“In the Fall of 1964 I paid $32 for the ring. I recently took it and had it enlarged to fit on my finger again and it costs $40 to have it stretched,” said Hicks.

While visiting together, they also located another Army buddy, Dickie Garrison, who now lives in Red Rock Texas. The three plan to meet up this year in Texas.

 Hicks was raised in Myrtle, but he and his wife, Linda are now Ripley residents.