It’s the simplest of weapons, but for retired Lt. Col. Oliver North, the dress sword presented to him at his 1968 Naval Academy graduation symbolized the complexity of the life he was entering.
Then in 1980, as he readied for a call of duty in the Reagan White House, it disappeared on a routine move from Camp Lejeune to Newport, R.I. “I’m not particularly attached to material things,” North told Secrets, “but that meant a lot.”
Now, 32 years later, and because of a long friendship dating back to his Academy days and Discovery Channel’s popular Auction Kings reality show, it’s back in North’s hands. “It gives me faith in people,” said North.
The sword that carries North’s name on it passed through several “owners” before it popped into Gallery 63, the Atlanta shop that is home to Auction Kings, last year. Owner Paul Brown couldn’t immediately find North and eventually put it up for auction, getting $1,850--$1,350 more than expected. North’s college roommate, now a Navy admiral saw the show and sent North a funny email: “I didn’t realize how tough things had gotten for you that you had to hock your sword.”
With help from Brown and Discovery, the new “owner” turned the sword over to North in a moving new season premiere for Auction Kings that will air Thursday at 9 p.m.
“The memories it brought back are special,” said North.
Unlike other services, swords are important to and required by the Marines. So much so that when his was lost or stolen, his wife bought him a replacement which he didn’t turn over to movers for future trips.
Asked what advice he has for Naval Academy seniors graduating Tuesday, North said simply, “Don’t let the movers move your sword. If your dog is important enough for you to move yourself, so is your sword.”
Discovery Channel’s Auction Kings, in its third season, permanently moves to its new Thursday night 9 p.m. perch with the special on North and his sword. Not changing: The show’s unique ending that features a live auction of the items featured.