"This is what can happen if young people would follow their dreams, which is what he did," Ayers said. "His story has been an inspiration to this school."
His widow said Rick Fossett's professional traits were surpassed by his personal qualities.
"He had an incredible gift for music, but was a kind, gentle giant of a man," Lola Fossett said. "You'll never meet anyone who ever met Rick Shayne who will say anything bad about him. He had a love for his family and love for the Lord.
"But out of all of his accomplishments, he considered his family the number one. He would have been so proud of his son, so proud of him serving his country."
Shayne Fossett remembers his father talking about his class ring, which includes a crest on one side that reads "Truth, Honor, Integrity."
"He was proud of it," Shayne Fossett said. "I'm really excited that we've gotten it back. I always heard him talk about it. And it's so interesting that it was found in the 1970s, at a time when there was not all of the information technology that's out there today. Now the technology is here and they were able to track it down to us."
He said his father had a tremendous reputation and was a favorite among everyone, including his own friends.
"You ask any of my friends I grew up with, he was always one of their best friends," Shayne Fossett said. "He was just a great man to be raised by."
As Lola Fossett gazed lovingly and longingly into the ring, the same way she has done many times since receiving it, she said as much as it means to her, it will mean even more when she hands it over to its permanent owner.
"I'm going to get a jewelry box and put it in it and take it to Shayne," she said. "He's a wonderful young man who has done so well despite losing his father. It's his."