Bracelet honors MIA soldier for 35 years

July 4, 2008 7:03:52 PM PDT
The Fourth of July is a day to celebrate one's patriotism and commitment to country. This holiday, we'll introduce you to a woman who's honoring the commitment she made more than 35-years-ago to a missing soldier, she never met.

It was a promise made by a 12-year-old - kept for a lifetime.

In 1972, Kathy Strong received a steel bracelet in her Christmas stocking, bearing the name of a 22-year-old Green Beret missing in action in Vietnam - James Moreland.

"It came with a little piece of paper and it said you were supposed topromise to keep it on until he came home. I've been to the Vietnam Wall three times," said Strong.

Over the years, the 48-year-old Strong learned all she could about Moreland and the day he was last seen alive, during the battle of Lang Vei on February 7, 1968.

"He was hurt that day, and nobody has seen him since."

For more than three-decades, Strong has faithfully worn Moreland's bracelet to proms, weddings, even through wrist surgery. She says she'll keep wearing it until Moreland, or his remains, come home.

Earlier this year, more than 35 years after she first slipped on the bracelet, Kathy heard from James Moreland's family. Over Memorial Day weekend, she flew to Seattle to meet them.

The contact came after the Contra Costa Times did a story featuring Strong and her bracelet. Strong met Moreland's two sisters, who talked about the boy they knew before he became the man that went to war.

"I asked about his first car, and who he took to senior prom and his favorite foods," said Strong.

Last month, Strong met Moreland's commander at Lang Vei, retired Col. Paul Longgrear.

Strong videotaped him describing Moreland's bravery in battle.

"When I think of heroes I think of Spec. James Moreland, my medic. He was critically wounded retrieving an M-60 machine gun," said Col. Longgrear.

Just as James Moreland honored his commitment to his fellow soldiers, Kathy Strong will honor hers to him.


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