POW Bracelets

POW Bracelets

Usage conditions apply
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
Object Name
POW bracelet
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
Vietnam War
Postwar United States
See more items in
Political and Military History: Armed Forces History, Military
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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I also had a bracelet. I was serving at Clark AFB Medical Center from Feb 1970 to September 1973. The former POWs wanted to talk, mostly with women. They discovered if they sat out side on the bench and pretend to "wait" for the bus, there would be lots of women leaving work, waiting for a bus to take them to the main gate. We talked about music and fashions - "you mean men wear pink shirts." We took our bracelets to the USO and they put them in boxes to give to the POWs.
I purchased this bracelet in the early 1970's. I donated $5 to the cause. I was living in California at the time. I was 21 years old and wore it when marching with others to "Support the Troops!" I later married a Vietnam veteran, who I grew up with in Minnesota. He was a combat veteran and tunnel rat. He was exposed heavily to Agent Orange and died of 15 melanoma tumors on his brain 6 months ago, Oct. 6, 2021. I would like to return this bracelet to, hopefully, family of Capt. Michael Brazelton, 8-7-66. I don't know if he returned home or not. I would like to do this in honor of my amazing Vietnam husband, Darrell Zipp, 11th Calvary, 1966-1967.
I am sorry for your loss. And I am grateful for your husband’s service and sacrifice for our country. I purchased a POW bracelet in 1971 and wore it for several years. I knew that my POW had returned when I saw his name in the local newspaper. There was no address. I kept it in a box all these years. Three years ago I googled his name and found an obituary. I saw two daughters listed so I searched for them on Facebook. I found one of them who replied to a message. We talked on the phone and I was able to mail her the bracelet. It was a joyful day for me. She said that the family has only received a couple of bracelets. It was great to hear about his life after the war. Good luck finding your POW.
My then boyfriend/now husband we had gotten two MIA/POW bracelets back in the 70's and have kept them in hopes of returning them to them to their rightful owners. S/SGT. Edward Smith Jr (date went MIA 03-29-1972) Later learned his remains were returned 03-01-86 from Laos. Capt. Leroy Stutz (date went MIS 12-02-1966) Was forced to eject over North Vietnam on 12-02-1966 and was a POW held captive for 2,284 days, he was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. We were never able to reach him to return his bracelet.
I have a bracelet engraved with the name of Capt. Alfonso Castro and dated 11-4-69. I have kept it all these years hoping to find out if he ever was able to come home.
I just read something about Vietnam Bracelets not too long ago and I knew my mom had one. She passed away a few years ago. She would have received hers when I was a baby. The name on it is LCDR Robert Flynn. 8/21/67. I was born in Oct of 67. I used to look at it all the time when I was little. I guess she never knew what became of him. But I got curious and went digging to find it and retrieve his name. After a quick Google search I found that he was shot down over China and held (mostly in solitary) in a Chinese prison for over 5 years. He made it home, but died of a heart attack on May 15, 2014. I wish I would have come across it again before he and my mom died. She would have liked to know he made it back. My dad, an Army WWII vet just recently passed. I wished I could have told him too. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/25/us/robert-j-flynn-shot-down-in-vietnam-war-dies-at-76.html
cleaning out stuff for my grand kids & found two of them. one dated 1967 and one 1969. Brings back a lotta of memories, as I was just out of college and had gone through the whole war thing and the summer of love in SF......I am now motivated to see what happened to each one of them. Thanks for your comments
I was so glad for your post. Like your mother, I purchased a bracelet when I was in Middle School in the early 1970s and received that of LCDR Robert Flynn. I recognized the name immediately in your post. I had searched every couple of years to try to find out what had happened to him. Your post gave me initial information and I jumped back in to Google for more. I am so glad to hear that he had returned to his family and had many years with them before his death.
I have held onto my POW bracelet since 1970 when I was a sophomore in high school in San Jose CA. Thanks to the internet I have been able to research my POW, Capt John W. Clark captured 03/12/67. It has been fascinating to hear his story and I am very blessed and honored to have received his bracelet. Thank you for your service sir.
I just found my braclet that I wore all through Jr. High and High School. It was for a Lt. Col. Mark Stephensen and the date under the name is 4-29-1967... I was wondering if he made it back.... I have been told i have kidney cancer and looking thru my old boxes at home I'm trying to tie up loose ends.... any info would be nice. Thank You !
Good afternoon, T. Gilda. I am the historian for the 366 FW, now stationed at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. Col Mark Stephensen is well remembered here, and the elementary school on the base is named for him. His family visited the base recently, and it's great to know someone was thinking of him while he was missing in action (MIA). V/r,
Did you find him? I hope you're feeling better. I also hard kidney cancer, i lost one and i pray you're hanging in there and winning the fight.
STEPHENSEN, MARK LANES Remains returned 08 April 1988, Identified August 1988 Name: Mark Lane Stephensen Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force Unit: 11th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Udorn AFB Thailand Date of Birth: 29 May 1930 Home City of Record: Salt Lake City UT Date of Loss: 29 April 1967 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 214501N 1050513E Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RF4C Refno: 0668 Other Personnel In Incident: Gary R. Sigler (released POW) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 July 1990 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 2014. Major L. Mark Stephensen was the pilot, and First Lieutenant GaryR. Sigler the co-pilot, of a reconnaissance-outfitted version of the F4Phantom fighter/bomber aircraft assigned an armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam on April 29, 1967. Sigler and Stephensen were friends, having met some 8 months before they were both shipped overseas. Sigler was confident in his friend's flying ability, and was undoubtedly thinking of his young daughter's first birthday the next day. Sigler and Stephenson usually flew night missions, and nearing the end of their tour as marked by an upcoming 100 missions, were glad it was dark, figuring if "we couldn't see them, they couldn't see us." Thirteen minutes after takeoff, they radioed their position to an airborne controller. It was the last radio transmission before the Phantom went down. About 60 miles from Hanoi, their systems indicated that SAMs (Surface to Air Missiles) had locked onto them. Attempting to evade their course, the aircraft crashed against treetops on one hill, then into the side of another hill. Sigler ejected after the first impact, and from a position over the top of a hill from the crashed aircraft watched the sky illuminated from the burning plane. Sigler was captured two days later and spent nearly seven years as a prisoner of war before his release in 1973. Early in his captivity, he was asked if another pilot was on his plane. He stated that during his entire captivity, he had no indication that the Vietnamese knew what happened to his pilot and friend. Major Stephenson was never heard from again. In April 1988, the Vietnamese returned remains they identified as those of Mark Stephenson. By August, 1988, the U.S. had verified that the identification was valid. Mark Stephenson, alive or dead, had been a prisoner of war for 21 years. During the period he was maintained missing, Mark Stephenson was promoted to the rank of Colonel. Gary R. Sigler was promoted to the rank of Captain during his captivity.
I still have the bracelet for Lt. William Reich 5-11-72.
I had a silver bracelet with the name of Sgt. Kenneth Johnson, but I do not remember the dates that were on it, but remember thinking to myself that he had not been gone for very long. I was in junior high school when I got mine (1972-1974) and wore it for a few years. I guess from all the wear of putting it on and taking it off daily to shower etc., it snapped in half and so after keeping the pieces into my twenties I finally got rid of it. I'm reading here that some people were able to reach out to their POW/MIA families but I don't ever remember hearing that this was even possible and so I never knew anything about him other than his name and am not sure if I would have known at the time, how to even try. I tried years later to see if I could find anything on Ancestry.com with no luck. But I haven't forgotten (his name or his service) and today on Memorial Day 2019, I would like to put his name in the "internet archives of war hero's" of a soldier who fought for his and my country, and that whatever his outcome I am grateful. I participated in the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce 1991 parade that welcomed and honored American troops back from the Gulf War. It was a special day with all the military equipment, music, and military flyover, but the most meaningful thing that day to me was to remember him (his name) again when two older Vietnam soldiers that were there recognized each other. The tears that flowed from them and everyone else around upon hearing their story including me, hit hard to see the bittersweetness of them being reunited and talking of those they knew that did not come back. I hope that Sgt. Kenneth was able to come home and lived a full life, but if not, that he was not completely forgotten. I know how real families are changed forever when their loved ones never come back, as my husband's Uncle was a pilot that was MIA and left a wife and three little girls to wonder about him until 1995 when it was confirmed that his plane had gone down behind enemy territory and most likely died immediately. So say prayers for all our hero soldiers either fallen in the line of duty or those that were able to come home. They are Patriots! #Forevergratefull #patriotsoldiers #patriotheros #neverforgotten #wwg1wga (in spirit)
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!!
The one I have has the blue star. If I remember correctly one of the stickers stood for MIA and one for POW.
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?
Sandy, can’t be 100% positive. But I was an Air Force ROTC student in college in 1981. I seem to remember that students raised the POW-MIA issue again. Don’t know if it was ROTC students, or another student group.The original silver bracelets hadn’t been made since 1976. And many people weren’t wearing them anymore. But we still had over 2500 service men still missing and unaccounted for. Our ROTC unit got involved and many of us started wearing them. They were Red when they were brought back. Why Red I don’t know. But The Red bracelet does signify a Vietnam POW/MIA. I have had mine for 39 years now and wear it every day until my guy is returned.
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.
My mom has the same name on her bracelet Kellie!
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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