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Friday, September 18, 2015

Local Story for National POW/MIA Recognition Day


From the New York Times today:

Today, a personal reflection from Victoria, one of your Morning Briefers:


For many years, “Eugene M. Jewell” was just a name inscribed on a metal bracelet that I, like so many others, wore in the 1970s.

Nearly five million similar bracelets were sold by a student group, starting in 1970, to raise awareness about those missing in action or held prisoner in the Vietnam War. Each had a name, a rank and the date of disappearance.

In 1971, I paid $2.50 and agreed not to remove the band until my bracelet’s “name” came home. But the metal dug into my wrist, the war ended, and the bracelet went into a box.

Today, on National POW/MIA Recognition Day, thanks to an Internet that makes us all a little less anonymous, I know that Eugene Jewell was more than an engraving.

He was 24 and a first lieutenant in the Air Force when he took off in an F-4 Phantom fighter jet for a mission over North Vietnam. His aircraft was shot down and lost on Sept. 4, 1965.

The Defense Department says 1,627 Americans who fought in the Vietnam War remain unaccounted for, including Captain Jewell (he was promoted in absentia).

When Captain Jewell was declared missing, his wife was back home in Topeka, Kan., with their 1-year-old daughter, Deborah, and pregnant with their second child.

Last year, Deborah Jewell wrote on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial website:

“It always is a surprise when I read about folks who have/are wearing a bracelet with my Dad’s name on it, and to hear about how their hearts ache for the loss and hurt our family feels.”

Victoria Shannon contributed reporting.




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