True Life: The man on the POW bracelet (John Dunn)

He was just a soldier on a bracelet in a basket – Army 1st Lt. John Dunn, who was taken prisoner in 1968.

I decided his Irish Dunn was a good match for my Irish Cahill.

The Vietnam War was the first time I heard of prisoners of war. Though I was an adult, I was too immature to grasp the magnitude of it, and war was far from my reality. Wearing a bracelet was one way I could offer support. But, truth be told, it was also cool – everyone was doing it.

• • •

The bracelet came with Lt. Dunn’s biography, which said he was from Kansas, where his family still lived. Over the years, I corresponded several times with his mother, and his plight became real to me as I saw him as part of a family.

More than 40 years ago – in February 1973 – I watched television as Lt. Dunn’s plane landed at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. He was part of Operation Homecoming, which welcomed back 591 former war captives. Each name was announced as the ex-POW stepped off the plane. It was an awesome sight.

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