POW Bracelets

Physical Description
Three bracelets.
Specific History
Worn to honor and increase awareness of POW/MIA soldiers. Traditionally, these bracelets were worn until the POW returned to the United States at which time the bracelet was presented to the former prisoner.
General History
The idea for POW bracelets originated in 1970. Carol Bates Brown and Kay Hunter were college students looking to support U.S. troops in Vietnam without being involved in the controversy of demonstrations and protests. Through their student group VIVA (Voices in Vital America), they were able to distribute millions of bracelets and other memorabilia nationwide.
POWs in the Public Eye
During the Vietnam War, American prisoners were a focus of public attention as never before.
Over 4,000 Americans were captured during World War I; more than 130,000 were taken prisoner during World War II; 7,000-plus were held in Korea. The American public knew little of their plight. But Americans were painfully aware of the 726 who were prisoners of war in Vietnam. The North Vietnamese paraded them in a sophisticated propaganda campain to erode public support for the war. POW families launched awareness campaings, and the media gave the POW situation extensive coverage. At the war's end, 661 returned home. Some Americans believe that thousands more "missing in action" were left behind.
20th Century Prisoners of War
World War I: 4,120 captured; 3,973 returned
World War II: 130,201 captured; 116,129 returned
Korea: 7,140 captured; 4,418 returned
Vietnam: 726 captured; 661 returned
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1970
remembered on bracelet
Grubb, Newk
Associated Place
United States
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 1/2 in x 3 in x 2 in; 1.27 cm x 7.62 cm x 5.08 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
related event
Vietnam War
Postwar United States
See more items in
Armed Forces History: Armed Forces History, Military
Data Source
National Museum of American History


Congressman Sam Johnson (Texas) was a POW in Vietnam for 7 years. Like John McCain (who was a patriot and hero in my book), Col. Johnson, also a patriot and hero, has been a congressman (Texas) for several decades (he will not be seeking re-election in November 2018). I had and still have the POW bracelet for Lt. Col. Samuel Johnson. I contacted his mother in the 70’s to let her know I had proudly l worn a bracelet with his name engraved on it, and after a time she let me know he had returned from the “Hanoi Hilton” Vietnam prison after 7 years. I am thankful for these extraordinarily brave men who answered the call and sacrificed and served their country so for so long.
I have a bracelet my mother wore in honor of her dear friend who was MIA (he was a pilot and his plane went down 8/1/68). In addition to the engraving, the bracelet has a round white sticker with a blue star in the middle. Do you know the significance of the sticker? Thank you so much!!
A blue star on a white background indicated the person was MIA. A white star on a blue background indicated the person was a POW.
I have a question regarding the red POW bracelets, when did they come to be produced and what is the significance of the red bracelet instead of the original nickel plated or copper bracelets?
I have a p.o.w. bracelet with the name Raymond Bobe captured 3/16/69. I have had it for years. If any relatives of this brave hero read this I would like to send it to you to honor him.
Hi Dorothy, My name is Kellie & I owned Marshall F. Kapinas bracelet. His remains were found 3-28-18. Please contact Dr. Dave Thompson at the Palm Springs Museum in California, 760-328-0859. 10-103 Lakeview Dr, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270. They are doing an amazing exhibition of these bracelets. You can put it on display there. Also, if you go to the Vietnam Wall blog, that is where I found family members to return his bracelet to. Thank you for honoring your POW by trying to return such an important momento! I could not believe 52 yrs after the fact, my bracelets POW was found & is in the process of coming home. Thanks, & if you need any help plz feel free to contact me.
I wore a bracelet in the 70's . The name on the bracelet was Captain Ariel Cross. I never knew what became of him.. If you know anything I would appreciate it.
Here are some links for you: http://www.virtualwall.org/dc/CrossAL01a.htm http://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces/11223/ARIEL-L-CROSS If you scroll down on this page, there is a memorial and information on what happened, along to a link with more photos. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/63599131
Is there a registry listing what bracelet/pow name went to whom? I wore one in the early 1970s, but cannot remember the name. He did come back alive though! This question is concerning the Vietnam War pow/Mia bracelets ordered and worn by US citizens until the prisoners were released.
I would like to know if the registry question has been answered. After reading about how it started I'm guessing they did not have the staff to maintain records but I worn one in high school and kept it for many years. I don't remember what ultimately happened to it but I would love to know what the name was so I could see if he ever returned. I seem to remember being able to write to the families, and if so then I did write them but never heard back. Its a great memory for me, one of my first "take action" moments in life.
"My first POW/MIA bracelet was for Lt. Cole Black. The night that the three jet air liners brought our soldiers home from the Hanoi Hilton, he was on the third plane and I cried like a baby. I sent him my bracelet and received a picture of he and his wife standing next to a Christmas tree decorated with his POW/MIA bracelets sent to him."

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