Monday, May 28, 2007

Honoring the Brave

Long time, no type.

I've been off doing dental drugs and traveling between torture sessions. Haven't had the time nor inclination to blog but will try to remedy that sooner or later.

In the meantime, it is Memorial Day. It was my family's custom to go picnic at the cemetery on Memorial Day and on Labor Day. Those were the days at the beginning and the end of summer when you cleaned the family headstones, planted flowers and had a sort of mini family reunion and dinner al fresco among the dearly departed. But, that's not my subject today.

I was going through a box of my keepsakes and found my POW bracelets from the Viet Nam war. I could fib and say these aren't mine but I bought them both in the early 70's before we were married, one for W4D and one for me. We wore them for many years, never knowing what happened to the young men who's names were engraved on our bracelets.

Viet Nam POW Bracelets

I can remember the day I bought these 35 years ago (if not the actual date) as clearly as can be, from a table in front of a store in a neighborhood open air mall in Tampa. The table was decorated with red white and blue bunting and many bracelets were laid out in lines. Three ladies sat at the table and took donations and answered questions. I selected PFC Paul Hasenbeck (MIA 4-21-67) and S2B W4D selected Master Sergeant Marshall Kipina (MIA 7-14-66).

Yesterday, I looked up the service records of PFC Paul Alfred. Hasenbeck from Freeburg, Missouri who was born May 11, 1947. I also researched. M/SGT Marshall Frederick Kipina, born Dec. 14, 1944, who was born in Augusta Maine and hailed at the time, from Calumet Michigan.

PFC Hasenbeck was lost on a sampan in South Viet Nam in April of 1967. You can read more about Hasenbeck here.

M/SGT Kipina was a member of the 131st Aviation Co., a group known as the "Nighthawks." Kipina was an observer and sensor operator in a surveillance plane that went out at night to photogrpah the Ho Chi Min Trail and track enemy activity. He and the pilot (Captain Robert Nopp) were shot down in Laos in July of 1966. There has been a possible photo ID of Kipina some years after the plane went down and some believe he survived the crash to become a POW. You can read more about him here.

Neither body was ever recovered.

Today, I honor them both as well as all the military men and women who have given their lives for our country and the cause of freedom.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I cannot belive there were no comments. Well, let correct this. I still have my POW/MIA bracelet and went so far as to find his name and trace it on The Wall when my ex and I were in DC in 1996. Lt. James Herrick Jr. will always be proudly displayed so I can honor him for the rest of my life. I wil never forget.

Kathleen
HSV, AR

jk said...

I can't believe you still have those bracelets...sometimes I see the black & white POW/MIA flags flying around town...those years were so difficult just as they are now...I read the names in the paper and feel sad when I see their ages....19, 20, 21, 22 etc....any age for that matter...that was a wonderful tribute you wrote...
hope you are healing...

Flaurella said...

Kathleen, When I finally get to The Wall, I am going to trace our MIAs, too. I tracked down the sister of my POW this year and I will continue to honor his memory for the rest of my life. Thank you for doing likewise.
xox,
Flaurella

Flaurella said...

Dear JK,
It's good to remember those lost in the service to our country. I too, have seen the black and white flags flying at the VFW posts near us. Thank you for remembering their service. I think the the PTB should draft older people for the fighting. Leave the young ones alone and let them live their lives. If everyone who had to fight wars was over 50, there wouldn't be too much fighting, I think. We;'d all be too old and sore to do much mayhem.
xox,
Flaurella

Anonymous said...

I have never "googled" the name on my POW bracelet until today. I, too, have the name Sgt. Marshall Kipina on my bracelet. I don't recall where I got mine but it's bent and has a piece of old yellow tape on the side holding it together. I am sure that I wore it during Junior High and High School. I also have a copy of a letter dated October 23, 1973 from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense in response to my inquiry to the status of the Sgt. I can't believe I still have the bracelet and the letter. It's amazing that we hold on to such memories in this way.

Flaurella said...

Dear Anon,
I'm glad you still have your bracelet. I'm glad people still honor our POWs and MIAs and I am glad you still think about SGT Kapina after all these years.
Kind regards,
Flaurella

Anonymous said...

Here it is July 14th and every year on this day I think about SGT Marshall Kapina and 7-14-66. It was the tail end of the war and I ordered my bracelet through the mail. I no longer have my bracelet. It was over 30 years ago, but I still remember his name and the date and will never forget either. I typed in SGT Kapina's name on the computer today and was inspired to find the posts and other people who also think and remember. I was fascinated to learn about this soldier I have wondered about for so many years. May we never forget and continue to honor our war heros each and every day.

NW, NH

Flaurella said...

How good of you to remember Sgt. Kapina on the date of his loss, 43 years later. I am going to go put on his bracelet. Thanks for reminding me.

billiejoq said...

My name is Billie and I also have this soldiers POW bracelet. I found it in a chest of my mom's when she passed away. I do remember her wearing it. My mom's name was Hope and I think she always kept hope for this man as she had two brothers who served in Vietnam I will proudly hold this bracelet dear to my heart from one Vet to Another.

Flaurella said...

Thanks for your note, Billie. It was good of your mother to keep her bracelet and while I am sad to learn that your mother has passed, I'm glad you have the bracelet now and also know a little of the history of the soldier we honor.

Jeff Nichols said...

Good Morning

My name is Jeff Nichols and I was contacted in my office about a pow/mia bracelet for Msgt Marshall Kipina that was found at a garage sale. The lady would like to return it to the family. Are you aware of anyway that this could happen. Thanks

Anonymous said...

My name is Kori and as a young girl I wore/owned Marshall Kapina's bracelet. I have looked for years to find out more about him. I had a cousin and a uncle return from the Vietnam War injured and with life long disabilities. In response my mother order bracelets for my brothers and I. I wore mine everyday, tell the day I took it off at a girl scout camp to swim.....When I returned it was gone. For a long time I tried to read the name on every POW/MIA bracelet, trying to find mine.

Flaurella said...

Kori, Sorry you no longer have your POW/MIA bracelet but am happy that I could offer a little light on SGT Kipina's service record. I am glad that you still remember him. Let us always and forever honor and be proud of our service men and women.

Anonymous said...

I know you posted this almost 7 years ago.... but I just saw it this evening... I too have Sgt. Marshall Kipina's bracelet... Thought you might find this article interesting... http://www.freep.com/article/20080816/COL02/80821065

Anonymous said...

I also wear SSGT Marshall Kapina's bracelet. I bought it in DC when I rode with more than 500,000 bikes in Rolling Thunder 2013.

Flaurella said...

Yes, once in a while I do revisit this page and I am so glad that one of you posted this link:

http://www.freep.com/article/20080816/COL02/80821065

I will be wearing my bracelet this month. Thank you for your heartfelt comments and the link above.
Flaurella