|Image from NPR.|
So - how on earth is this a story connected to institutional archives. Well, it turns out that the Turners figured out who the original owner of the ring was because their Google searches based on the ring's inscriptions took them within a few minutes to this Master's Thesis posted in 2006 at the NC State Digital Repository: War Eagles: A Bird's Eye View of 305th Bomb Group and the Eighth Air Force from the experiences of David C. Cox and Joseph B. Boyle - NCSU Digital Repository. The thesis was written by Norwood McDowell, who happens to be the younger Cox's son in law. And his thesis was about the elder Cox and had a brief discussion of the ring.
Kudos to all involved, including NC State and Norwood McDowell for making his Masters thesis available.