Are you old enough to know what this is? I retrieved it this morning from the box I keep it in. With all of the conflicting stories about Kerry's service in Vietnam and (maybe) Cambodia, I thought I'd pass along the story of Bunyon Price and his buddies:
"On May 2, 1970 a UH1H helicopter from Company B, 229th Aviation Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division flown by WO1 Michael B. Varnado was hit by ground fire and forced to land just over the border of South Vietnam near the city of Memot, Cambodia. The aircraft was transporting members of HHC, 34th Armor, 25th Infantry Division, SP4 Rodney L. Griffin; SP4 Bunyan D. Price, Jr.; WO1 Daniel F. Maslowski; Capt. Dale W. Richardson; and Capt. Robert M. Young. Also aboard were Tommy Karreci, SP4 Frederick H. Crowson, and CW2 Daniel F. Maslowski, crew members of the aircraft.
The men were part of an attempt to stop North Vietnamese forces from gaining strongholds in Cambodia. President Nixon announced the request by Cambodia for American assistance on April 30. Had we not assisted, the North Vietnamese, in addition to having an effective sanctuary to which they could retreat without retaliation, would also have South Vietnam completely outflanked.
The crew all survived the crash, and had only 30-40 seconds on the ground to decide what to do. They all attempted to evade, each in different directions. Only 18-year-old Karreci managed to make it back to U.S. lines in 2 or 3 days. Crowson, Maslowski, Varnado and Young went in one direction and were all captured by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces. Price, according to Defense Department records, was also captured. Griffin and Richardson took off in another direction and were never seen again.
Crowson and Maslowski were released in 1973 and in their debriefings stated that WO1 Varnado and Capt. Young had died in captivity, while detained in Cambodia. The Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam (PRG) officially acknowledged their deaths, listing Varnado's death as 21 September 1970, and Young's death as 17 November 1972.
According to Dan Maslowski, Bob Young died of illness in Dan's arms in the fall of 1972. Maslowski saw Varnado about two months after capture. "Vito" had been shot in the leg and in the side when he was captured, and according to Dan, "looked like hell". His side wound had healed, but the wound in his leg, in the kneecap, was badly infected. He could not walk, and told Maslowski that the Viet Cong had been transporting him in a hammock. The Viet Cong had told Varnado that he was to be taken to a hospital to have his leg taken care of. The Vietnamese state that he died two months after Dan saw him in camp (about 4 months after capture).
On August 1, 1989, it was announced that the Vietnamese had "discovered" the remains of Michael Varnado, returned them to the U.S. His remains were positively identified, much to the relief of family and surviving comrades, and Michael Varnado could finally be buried with the honor he deserved. The remains identification did not contradict that Vietnamese' statement that Varnado died four months after capture.
The fate of Price is uncertain. Maslowski always believed Price had been captured, but never saw him in camps he was held in. One report from escaped ARVN POWs stated that he was captured by the Khmer and because the ethnic groups normally did not cooperate, the Khmer would not likely have given Price over to the Vietnamese, who had captured the other four."
I check from time to time, but Price is still missing. I haven't worn the bracelet since 1974 but I think I'll wear it again, at least until Election Day, to remind myself of real heroes.