Back in 1959, Army Lt. William Parker was just a year out of West Point and stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash., when he took his dog for a walk. Scampering through the woods, he lost his Military Academy class ring. He looked for it in vain.

Parker, now a CIA intelligence officer who lives in the Prince George's County community of Seabrook, is getting his ring back. It was found by an alert detective in a pawnshop almost as far away from Fort Lewis as one can get in the continental United States -- in Winter Garden, Fla.

How it got there is a mystery to pawnshop owner Armand Savoie, Orange County (Fla.) sheriff's detective Bill Yamber and, as much as anyone, ring owner Parker.

Savoie agreed cheerfully to sell the ring to Parker for the $80 he lent on it although, with its nearly ounce of gold, it could have fetched $450 on the open market. Parker's getting his ring back, said Savoie, is "what matters."

Detective Yamber, making a routine check, had noted the name Parker in the ring and traced the owner through local West Point graduates and finally the academy itself.

Reached by a Florida reporter, Parker's wife Claudia said she was "absolutely shocked" though pleased: "We thought it was lost for good." Metro's First Crush

Happy birthday, Metro! It was 10 years ago today that our first subway line opened its gates to the general public, and an estimated 51,000 people took advantage of free rides.

For many, it became the free right to stand in immobilized trains.

So many people descended upon the five opened stations on a 4.6-mile section of what became known as the Red Line that the trains couldn't start. The passengers jammed into the cars, causing distortions on the car floors that wedged open many doors. It was a problem that persisted for a time but, like other Metro problems, has been overcome.

Two days later, on March 29, 1976, the paying passengers began traveling between the Rhode Island Avenue station (where the first into the fare gate was Betty Morrisson) and the Farragut North station (where the first was David Hudson).

The opening of revenue service will be marked at a birthday party at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Pavilion in the Old Post Office -- reached via Metro's Federal Triangle station. The first six cars that went into service 10 years ago will be operated on a special train all day. Three Little Smokeys

In what one official called "almost a replay of the Smokey Bear story," three puppy-sized black bear cubs were rescued from a 190-acre fire this week in Virginia's George Washington National Forest.

The three cubs were found huddled inside a hollow tree. One suffered a singed paw.

Forest rangers fed the cubs by bottle and plan to return them to their lair, hoping the mother will return. If she doesn't, they'll be rescued again and raised in captivity.

Smokey, symbol of the continuing crusade against forest fires, suffered a burned paw in a New Mexico forest fire in 1951. He was flown to Washington where in 1976 he died at the age of 26 (human equivalent: 70) in the National Zoo.