By Ed Runyan
A speaker at Friday’s Prisoner of War/Missing In Action Recognition Day observance at the Trumbull County Veterans Memorial on Courthouse Square told the story of a woman who, as a 12-year-old in California, received a bracelet in remembrance of soldier James Moreland and wore it for 38 years.
Sgt. Moreland, a Green Beret, went missing in Vietnam in 1968, and in 1972, Kathy Strong received a POW/MIA bracelet with Moreland’s name on it in her Christmas stocking.
She wore it continuously for 38 years, with a vow to wear it “until James Moreland came home, until she could hand it to him in person,” Capt. Michael Yates said.
“In early 2011, 43 years after he went missing, James Moreland’s sisters got word that his remains had been found and that at long last, through efforts of Department of Defense personnel, he had been identified.”
The family invited Strong to attend the funeral, “and there she took off the bracelet and put it on Sgt. Moreland’s uniform,” said Yates, range and operations manager at Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center.
“Kathy Strong should inspire all of us,” Yates said. “That for as long as it takes to bring every American home, we will never stop working.”
A proclamation from the Trumbull County commissioners designating Friday as POW/MIA Recognition Day in Trumbull County said 83,000 Americas are unaccounted for from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, Vietnam War and the 1991 Gulf War.
“Today we reaffirm that sacred pledge — you are not forgotten,” he said of those who are prisoners of war/missing in action.
One of the highlights of Friday’s observance was the Laying of the Roses ceremony, in which individuals placed a red rose in memory of each of the 59 “sons of Trumbull County” who lost their lives in the Vietnam War and three who died during the 1991 Gulf War.
There were 536,000 Americans who saw action in Vietnam, 303,644 of whom were wounded, 58,220 of whom were killed in action. Ohio had the fourth- highest number of casualties in Vietnam, said Larry Bartolin of Hartford, a member of the Vietnam Vets Motorcycle Club of Ohio.