The farmland near West Frankfort, Illinois, is a strange starting point for a figure in the history of the U.S. Navy, more than a thousand miles distant from the nearest ocean. Even stranger is who, or rather what, that figure was and how much he contributed to a battleship that was never built.
On Sherman Boner’s farm in 1942, one of his hogs produced a litter of 12 piglets. Boner’s young daughter Patty picked out a red and white newborn and raised him for her 4-H Club project. Patty Boner named the pig Parker Neptune. After she showed him in the 4-H competition, her father donated the animal to Don Lingle, a naval recruiter in the nearby town of Marion.
The story might have ended there if Lingle had gone ahead with plans to make the pig the star attraction at a fund-raising barbecue. But the recruiter decided to change the pig’s name to King Neptune, dress him in a Navy blanket, silver crown, and earrings, and use him to sell war bonds.