POW bracelets and the art of being thankful

I recently purchased a POW-MIA bracelet. The purpose of these silver cuffs is to serve as a daily, visual reminder not to give up hope for the lost soldier. The bracelets were first created in May 1970 by a California student group called Voices in Vital America with the intention that American POWs in Vietnam not be forgotten. Those who wore the bracelets vowed to leave them on until the soldier named on the bracelet, or their remains, were returned to America.

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For me, in addition to remembering that soldier, they also are a symbol that I should be thankful for what I have. Sometimes I can start to feel really sorry for myself and my petty troubles, but then I just look at the name on my wrist and remember he went missing when he was 24 years old. I remember that I have lived 7 additional years from that point and compared to being a prisoner of war or a person missing in action, they have been much easier. Today he would be 70 years old.

The name that you are given is completely random. Once you receive your bracelet you can go back to the site and get a full biography of your soldier. You can find out where is from, what his mission was, and any other details involving his case. My bracelet is for Captain Paul D. Raymond, and for him and his family, I hope that after all these years there could be a sweet homecoming. In the meantime I hope it means something to his family that I think of him daily and that he has helped to put my life in perspective.

Below is all the info they have for him. If you would like to order a bracelet, you can order your own here.

r009Name: Paul Darwin Raymond
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
Unit: 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron
Date of Birth: 10 January 1943
Home City of Record: Deposit NY
Date of Loss: 05 September 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 171100N 1065400E (YE021007)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4C

Other Personnel in Incident: Donald W. Downing; on another F4C nearby:
Thomas P. Hanson; Carl D. Miller (all missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 1991 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK.


Synopsis: The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2), and had a long range (900 – 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and high altitudes. Most pilots considered it one of the “hottest” planes around.

1Lt. Paul D. Raymond and Maj. Carl D. Miller were F4 pilots who were sent on a combat mission over Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam on September 5, 1967. Raymond’s bombardier/navigator on the flight was Capt. Donald W. Downing, while Miller’s was 1Lt. Thomas P. Hanson.

Both aircraft crashed on their missions near the coast of Vietnam. Raymond and Downing went down about 10 miles north of the city of Vinh Linh, while Miller and Hanson went down about 20 miles north of Vinh Linh. All four were classified Missing in Action, and it is believed the Vietnamese could account for them, alive or dead.

591 American Prisoners of War were released in 1973, but nearly 2500 were not. Thousands of reports have been received by the U.S. Government that indicate hundreds of Americans are still alive and held captive in Southeast Asia. Policy statements indicate that “conclusive proof” is not available, but when it is, the government will act.

Whether the four airmen missing on September 5, 1967 survived to be captured is not known. Whether they are among those believed to be still alive today is uncertain. .

During the period they were maintained missing, Miller was promoted to the rank of Colonel, Downing to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Hanson to the rank of Major and Raymond to the rank of Captain.

Paul D. Raymond graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1965.