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Nearly half-century old POW bracelet bonds strangers

Posted April 1, 2015

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— Harold Flowers and Raymond Schrump have been connected to one another for nearly half a century.

On Saturday, both men will meet for the first time.

Flowers was an eighth grader in 1968 when his parents bought him a POW bracelet.

“Back then, from what I understand, they bought it and when the prisoner of war either came home or they located him, we was supposed to try and get this bracelet to them,” he said.

Schrump was a former U.S. Army major who served in Vietnam and Korea.

"May 23, 1968, I was captured by the Vietcong and held until February 12, 1973," he said.

Schrump, whose many military honors include a Purple Heart, said he thought he was going to die five times while held captive.

"I guess I was right on the verge of dying,” he said. “I couldn't walk. I was coughing up blood all from the malnutrition and disease.”

Both men will meet at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville.

"I just want to get it back to him,” he said. “He’s been through all that and he's home. And that what was the purpose for it. A lot of them didn't make it home."

John Elskamp of the Veteran's Legacy Foundation helped the two men connect and will be with them on Saturday.

Schrump is looking forward to the meeting.

"I get very emotional and I feel like I've known this man all my life and I haven't met him yet,” he said.

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  • Joan Fowler Apr 2, 2015
    user avatar

    I had one of these bracelets.....think I was in the 6th grade(???). I NEVER took it off.....that was the instruction....one day it was just gone off of my wrist.....I searched and searched for it.....I was so upset that I had lost it! I hope it was a sign that my POW/MIA was coming home!

  • Elaine Perkinson Apr 1, 2015
    user avatar

    My brother was in Vietnam so I wanted to get a POW bracelet. I did and wore it faithfully. Many years later I did find out that "my" POW had returned home and contacted him but he did not want to correspond. I was very disappointed but respected his wishes. I was sorry we could not talk or maybe write but he chose not to. I still have the bracelet.

  • Paul Maxwell Apr 1, 2015
    user avatar

    "Lest we forget..."