By: Ted Sims

     In 1968 after attending Junior College for a year I decided it was time for me to do my duty as an American by serving in one of the branches of the military. Not wanting to join and serve a 4 year hitch, I decided to let the draft take its' course. I dropped out of college and waited for the "Letter," and after many months it finally came. Soon after that came the physical and finally the induction into the U.S. Army in August of 1969. Just before the end of A.I.T. for field artillery, I received initial orders for Vietnam. At the time I was mentally prepared to go. To my good fortune someone above was looking out for me and my final orders came down for Germany. Many of my friends received orders for Nam while I spent 20 months in Germany in an 8 inch Howitzer Special Weapons unit. It was fantastic duty compared to what the guys in Nam were experiencing and at times I felt a little guilty because we had it so good. Just 6 months prior to the end of my tour, several of my buddies got levied to Nam for the remainder of their tour. Some of us stayed in touch but I always wondered what happened to the others. At the end of my two years I was ready to get back to the "World" and continue my education.

     Soon after the time I went back to school someone came around selling "POW-MIA" bracelets. Being a veteran and knowing what was going with the "POW-MIA's" I wanted to support the cause. When I bought my bracelet, I read the name San D Francisco and immediately thought it was bogus, because there couldn't be anybody named San D Francisco. I didn't wear my bracelet very much and eventually lost it in one of my many moves over the years.

     As time went on and I saw that our government had forgotten our brothers, I started looking at the web sites for "POW-MIA's" to find out about my buddies from Germany. Luckily I did not find any of their names listed among the missing. Just for the heck of it I typed in the name of San D Francisco. To my surprise it came up and I read the details of his final mission.

     This past October my work carried me to Gettysburg, Pa. On a weekend prior to Thanksgiving a coworker (Drew), and I decided to go to Washington D.C. to see the sights. I wanted to visit The Wall to honor my brothers and brought a pencil and paper to get a rubbing of San D Francisco's name. When we arrived we walked from the east to the west and, as everyone knows who has been there, it is a very emotional walk. On the west end we found the directories and looked up San D Francisco's name. Drew noticed that Francisco was from Burbank, WA, and said that he lived close to Burbank and knew someone there. We then noted the panel numbers and made our way back to the panel with his name. For many of us there is nothing that can describe all the emotions that come about from the retrieving of a name on The Wall.

     When we had finished the rubbing we started toward the Lincoln Memorial, stopping to see the bronze memorial of the three soldiers and the Vietnam Women's Memorial. As we exited the Wall area we came upon the kiosks for the "POW-MIA's" where I could purchase some stickers and patches. We stopped at the first one to see what he had and noticed the bracelets. I asked if he had any for the Air Force from the state of Washington. He did a very thorough search and found nothing. I then asked about Mississippi and New Mexico, and again nothing, so I purchased some of his stickers and patches. We continued to the next booth when I suddenly remembered another patch the guy in the first booth had that I wanted to buy, so we went back. As I was paying for it he asked, "Weren't you asking for Washington state bracelets?" I said yes and he handed me a bracelet in a bag he said he had found buried in a different slot. I raised it to read the name and 30 years of held back emotions came flooding out as I read the name MAJ SAN D FRANCISCO. Drew read the name at the same time and said in amazement "Ted, that's the name you were looking for!" Upon hearing this, the brother soldier in the booth let out an emotional groan and told us it was the third time that had happened that day. It's very hard to describe all the emotions I felt walking away that second time, but they did not end there. That night, back in my motel room I was reading a write-up on the Major and the bracelet when the emotional dam burst again. The Major became M.I.A. 11-25-68. My son was born 11-25-87.


Ted Sims....©2002

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