Vietnam Bracelets and Veteran’s Day

11/11/2015 at 09:23 Leave a comment


Honestly, my Vietnam POW/MIA bracelets have been in my jewelry box since 1975 when I took them off. Today, I thought about them.

braceletsI was in junior high when, Carol Bates Brown, National Chairman of the POW/MIA Bracelet Campaign for VIVA (Voices In Vital America), the Los Angeles based student organization that produced and distributed the bracelets during the Vietnam War launched the bracelets on Veteran’s Day in 1970. You can read the history of the bracelets and families, men and war they represented. Lest we forget.

I remember asking my Mom about buying one using my money. No internet back then, I had to send a check and wait. I did that twice. Spending $5 to show my support for the families and men fighting in a war I didn’t believe in (based on what I knew living in a left wing home). But I did grow up in Cleveland and Kent State was not far and I clearly remember watching it unfold on newscasts. I remember the small brown box arriving and putting the bracelets on and never taking them off for 5 years.

I remember getting a letter letting me know Major David Duart had come home and I could “break” my bracelet. At some point I also received the star to attach to his bracelet, but I cannot remember what that signified. Perhaps he status was updated from MIA to POW – as you will read from his story below.

Today, for the first time, I looked to see if I could find the people behind my bracelets. I should have known better and looked sooner but this site has collected the information. I am crying as I write this. I should have looked sooner but there was dust on these bracelets and my memory….easier to not remember.

Colonel Duart did come home in 1973 and his story is here. He spent SIX YEARS as a POW.

————————

DAVID H. DUART Lieutenant Colonel – United States Air Force

Shot Down: February 18, 1967

Released: March 4, 1973

I enlisted in the United States Air Force on 22 April 1954 and graduated from flight school on 2 August 1955. My wife, Helen, and I were married on 4 August 1956 and we have three children, Pamela, born 1958, Brian, in 1960, and Susan, born in 1964.

My F-105 was hit by a Surface to Air Missile over North Vietnam on the 18th of February, 1967. I was captured immediately upon reaching the ground by the local militia. For the next six years I lived in various camps in and around Hanoi, including the Hanoi Hilton and The Zoo.

I believe that the concern of the American people led by the various POW/MIA organizations and the United States government was directly responsible for the improvement of the treatment of the POW’s in North Vietnam beginning in late 1969. I am eternally grateful for this tremendous effort in our behalf.

Although I will never be able to adequately express my thankfulness to each of you, I will quote a poem by Helen Steiner Rice that I wish I had written for you.

THE WORLD NEEDS FRIENDLY FOLKS LIKE YOU

In this troubled world it’s refreshing to find

Someone who still has the time to be kind,

Someone who still has the faith to believe

That the more you give the more you receive,

Someone who’s ready by thought, word or deed

To reach out a hand in this hour of need.

I plan to stay in the Air Force and in this capacity, do what I can to re-pay my country and those who showed such great concern for my plight as a Prisoner of War.

Thank you and God Bless each of you.

====================

David Duart retired from the United States Air Force as a Colonel. He and Helen lived in Texas until his death after a long battle with lung cancer on September 10, 2003. He is buried at Ft Sam Huston, San Antonio, TX.  SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977 Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602 Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and spelling errors)

———————-

Spec 5 Medaris was MIA when I received his bracelet and now I know we “recovered his remains” in 1973.

 

As Carol writes,

In all, VIVA distributed nearly five million bracelets and raised enough money to produce untold millions of bumper stickers, buttons, brochures, (I also had these) matchbooks, newspaper ads, etc., to draw attention to the missing men. In 1976, VIVA closed its doors. By then the American public was tired of hearing about Vietnam and showed no interest in the POW/MIA issue.

This was how we raised awareness back then. Today we cannot forget – EVER – those who serve our country now or did in the past or gave their lives for our freedom.

Whether you agree with the US military spending, participation in wars near and far or recruitment, preparation and training of a future force – today we have military men and women who are serving at the behest of the President and for us. We cannot forget them.

 

Entry filed under: Storytelling. Tags: , , , , .

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