Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fact is Stranger than Fiction

A couple of weeks ago I was carrying on and writing about fads and trends and mentioned the MIA/POW bracelets that were worn in the late 1960's and early 1970's.

Out of curiosity I looked on the Internet to see if one could still find those bracelets.
In a nut shell, yes you can. I even found a guy selling a cache of the original bracelets from 1970. He had squirrel them away after trying to return the lot to the organization that distributed them. They did not respond to his request to return the unsold portion.

I assume everyone knows what a MIA/POW bracelet is, and if not a brief history. During the Viet Nam era some of the returning service men wore bracelets given to them by hill tribesmen as "friendship" bracelets. The idea was transformed into a way to show support of the soldiers and to demand humane treatment of those in captivity. In other words, for those men who were taken as Prisoners of War by the Viet Cong or who were Missing in Action. The group was called VIVA, a couple of college kids from LA, and they sold thousands of bracelets on simple metal stating the soldiers name, their rank and the date they disappeared.

I found some startling statistics. In WWII over 78,000 are MIA. Mind boggling! But I have heard first hand from my father, a WWII USAAF veteran, that the man next to you would be blow up in the blink of an eye. Gone from the face of the earth. Korea some 8,000 MIA and Vietnam has over 2700 MIA, POW, or KIA unaccounted for. It is a fact that every year these number go down as bodies are recovered or found and turned over to the US.

I found a web site that lists the dates that remains are identified and returned to the US. It's unbelievable to me that they can be identified let alone found! There is a military site that is dedicated to the "Recently Accounted-For". One lost September 15, 1918 found and identified on March 2, 2010. Almost 100 years waiting to come home.

So, with all this information about how there are still groups searching and negotiating for the Lost it was a simple step to purchase a POW-MIA bracelet and help a justified cause.

The bracelet was shipped on March 22nd, I received it a few days later. SFC Donald M. Shue, USSF, 11-03-69 Laos,(from)NC.

I've been wearing the bracelet ever since. Heavy and warm and way too big for my puny wrist, it slides up and down making a sharp clink against my watch and clanking on the desk. It's strange how at home it feels on my arm and I hesitate to remove even when I must.

Today I thought to look SFC Donald M. Shue, USSF from NC up on the Internet and see his story....

His remains had been found and identified on March 22nd. He is being returned to the US and will be in Hawaii until he is officially returned to Charlotte NC and to his family on April 30th. The Rolling Thunder will escort him to his final resting place, as he was a motor cycle enthusiast.

I wonder if when they choose one of the 2500 names of the Lost if they knew? Or if something else happened? Whatever it was, what ever it is, it is a hero has been lost and now found. I will continue to wear his bracelet for the other 1549 who are still waiting to come home.


Nelle said...

I remember those bracelets. I bought them for all my friends once. Didn't know anyone had any left. I wonder what ever happened to my old ones. Interseting.

Patty said...

That is a weird coincidence. I'm glad Donald Shue will finally be coming home. I've been Googling Don Shue for a week or so because I heard from someone who knew Bill Brown whose name is on my bracelet. Don Shue went missing with Bill Brown. (A search on Don Shue is how I just found your blog.) I've had my bracelet since sometime in the 70's and always wondered about Bill Brown. Thanks to the internet, I know a little bit about him. I'm hoping that his remains have also been found and will soon be indentified so he too can come home.

Barbara said...

A real walk down memory lane. Loved the perspective from which you wrote this! Thanks for reminding us all not to forget.