Love was his only hope
The story of The Ring is inspired by the true events surrounding David Roever—a Vietnam veteran whose face was burned beyond recognition when a phosphorus hand grenade he was holding was shot by a Vietcong sniper and then exploded in his face during an attack in 1968. As David lay at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX, the fiancé of the severely burned soldier next to him arrived; and when she saw the condition of her “would–be” husband, she took off her engagement ring and placed it on his chest, telling her fiancé she could never live with a man like that. The soldier died hours later from what was believed to be a broken heart. Wondering what his own wife, Brenda, would think when she saw him, he could only wonder. When she finally did arrive—and having been convinced that it was in fact him—she bent down, kissed his face, looked at him in his one good eye and told him: “I want you to know I love you. Welcome home, Davey.”
Like the movie Pearl Harbor, Sonny Williams is a brash, braggadocios fighter pilot who had fought with the RAF in Europe against Hitler’s Luftwaffe until he was transferred to Pearl Harbor to help train American pilots. Severely injured from bullet wounds during the Japanese attack on December 7th 1941, he is given little chance of survival. Under the influence of morphine, he tells Sara—the charge nurse at the hospital—she is the most beautiful woman he has ever met and asks her if he’ll live. She tells him ‘yes’, but she knows he won’t. ‘Good,’ he says, ‘so when are you and I going to get married?’ Busy with other patients, she dismisses the question and moves on. Later that night, the fiancée of the sailor in the hospital bed next to Sonny comes for a visit. When she sees her fiancée scarred beyond recognition from his burns, she takes off her engagement ring and lays it on his chest and leaves after telling him she could never marry a man that looks like that. The sailor’s morale and then vitals go into a tailspin—and he dies within the hour, despite his good chances for survival.
As Sonny fades in and out of consciousness, he keeps asking Sara when they are going to get married. Having just witnessed the cruelty in the bed next to him and determined to provide any means of hope necessary to keep the young pilot alive, Sara takes the abandoned engagement ring, puts it in the palm of his hand and closes it. ‘Soon,’ she tells him, ‘real soon.’ He smiles and drifts into unconsciousness and miraculously survives.
Following his recovery, Sonny holds the ring tight to his chest in spite of Sara’s attempts to take it away. Then after having fully recovered weeks later, Sonny is called back into action in the Pacific theater to even the score with the Japanese. Giving the ring back to Sara, he thanks her for giving him the hope he needed to keep him alive. After his departure, Sara suddenly finds herself feeling alone and now must decide what will become of the ring.