Priceless Navy Dress Sword Recovered in Time for Family Wedding Tradition

A family's troubling tale is getting a happy ending after a priceless family heirloom declared lost in the mail was recovered. 

Decorated Navy Adm. Alfred Vernon Jannotta’s dress sword first was used to cut a wedding cake when he got married in 1918, starting a tradition honored by four generations. But it was all threatened by a mailing mix-up.

Jannotta’s great-granddaughter Michelle, who asked News4 only use her first name, came to News4 for help when the sword seemingly vanished in shipping from Texas to Maryland.

Tracking information showed the sword made it to Laurel before UPS told the family on April 30 that their heirloom was lost. The shipping company offered cash compensation, but the family didn't give up.

"Every generation has pictures of their wedding cake with the sword, with the bride and the groom using the sword to cut the wedding cake," Michelle said. “The sword couldn’t have just disappeared."

With just five weeks to go before the wedding, the family reached out to News4. Hundreds of readers shared the almost-tragic story and UPS promised to use additional resources to find it.

The sword turned up in Maryland — Although it is still unclear how the sword was lost.


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The family received the sword in the mail on Thursday.

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