Created on Friday, 14 June 2013 Written by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio woman who wore a bracelet engraved with the name of a prisoner of war from Vietnam is passing it on to that Florida veteran as he marks the 48th anniversary of his capture.
Patty James, the University of Toledo director of senior administrative operations, holds the prisoner of war bracelet she received as a Christmas gift at the age of 14. The inscription reads, Col. Lawrence Guarino, 6/14/65. She wore her bracelet daily until Guarino returned in February 1973 after being held for nearly eight years, and then held onto it for decades more. Shortly before the mobile Vietnam Wall visited Toledo, the University of Toledo's military liaison, Lt. Haraz Ghanbari, began looking for Col. Guarino. On Friday, June 14, 2013, Lt. Ghanbari will fly to Florida and present the Colonel and his family with the bracelet, 48 years to the day since he was captured in Vietnam. (AP Photo/The Blade, Katie Rausch)
Patty James told The Blade in Toledo (http://bit.ly/197l4s7 ) she got the bracelet bearing the name of Col. Lawrence Guarino as a Christmas gift when she was a teen and the bracelets were popular among American youth to show support for soldiers. She wore her bracelet daily until Guarino returned in February 1973 after being held for nearly eight years, and then held onto it for decades more.
"I've never forgotten his name," James said. "It's always been etched in my mind."
James, an assistant to the University of Toledo president, didn't try to find Guarino until recently, after the school's military and media liaison showed her a video message from the U.S. defense secretary and she learned more than 1,600 POW or MIA Vietnam soldiers aren't accounted for, the newspaper reported. James mentioned the bracelet to the liaison, Haraz Ghanbari, and he suggested trying to find Guarino.
They discovered the 91-year-old veteran and his wife live in Florida.
Ghanbari arranged to meet Guarino to return the bracelet to him Friday at Guarino's retirement home in Melbourne, Fla. The ceremony — exactly 48 years after Guarino's plane was shot down — also serves as a reminder of veterans still missing, Ghanbari said.
Guarino, who also served in World War II and the Korean War, said he received many such bracelets when he returned to the U.S. and still gets them occasionally.
He said it's a nice sign that "there were so many loyal Americans while we were fighting" in an unpopular war.
Work obligations kept James from going to Florida for the ceremony, but she said she'd eventually like to meet Guarino, perhaps while visiting her own father-in-law in Florida sometime.