When I was in middle school (we called it “Junior High School” back in the day), we all began wearing bracelets … bracelets with the names of American POWs on them. They were made of nickel and I think they first showed up around 1970. I probably got mine during the 1971-72 school year. My bracelet bore the name of Captain Jose David Luna, of the United States Air Force, captured 10 March 1967. For over a year, I wore that bracelet. I didn’t know him or anything about him, except that he was a prisoner of war “somewhere over there.”
In the Spring of 1973, my family and I were at my grandparents’ house. I don’t recall how I knew – whether we saw it on the news or had some sort of advance notice – but I spent a huge portion of the day watching television, because there were POWs getting off an airplane somewhere. I remember watching for a very long time … and then, there he was! Captain Jose David Luna, USAF – getting off the plane! I remember crying, and thinking, “He’s home! He’s home!”
Fast-forward to 2013-2014, and I know a little more about Jose David Luna. Based on information from various POW websites, he was held at the “Hanoi Hilton,” among other places, before being released in 1973. He stayed in the Air Force, married, and lived in Maryland. I believe he finally retired as a Lt. Colonel – I did not find an obituary, so I assume he is still alive. I didn’t really research any further than that – it was enough to know that he is still around.
Today, on Memorial Day 2014, I dug out that bracelet. Forty-plus years later, and I remember that day so clearly. Lt. Col. Luna – I salute you today on Memorial Day. I am grateful for your service and for your sacrifice. I may never meet you, but you still hold a special place in my memory.