Luther Lono was in the Marines and had the same birthday as mine, born in 1931. He was from Tacoma, Wa., but his family was from Hawaii. Both pilot Lono and his bombardier navigator (Patrick Curran) were sent on a recon mission over Laos and things were going well until the Airborne Tactical Air Control aircraft lost contact with them on September 29, 1969.
It is believed the plane landed but they were taken prisoner or executed on the spot. They next day they heard a signal from their emergency transmitter but after searching, they or their aircraft were never found. Curran's mother felt they were alive though and fought tirelessly to free them and the almost 600 other men imprisoned. If they had been captured, the United States never negotiated for any captive's release from Laos, which leads some to think there still might be prisoners being held today.
In further reading of Curran's bio, the suspected crash sight was investigated in 1997 and pieces of a plane were found, enough to determine a correlation of the one that went down years before.
Although he was listed as MIA his remains were returned in 2000 and positively identified in 2001. The remains of both Marines were buried together at Arlington Cemetery in 2002 with full honors. If Luther were alive today he would be the same age as my mom.
I didn't realize, but the bracelets are still being sold by the POWNetwork. You can order from a specific war and even customize it with a particular name. So I will get my bracelet back after all! As Veteran's Day is upon us, I salute Lono, Curran, and the millions of men and women who gave and are still giving us the gift of Freedom.