Part of the Bay Area News Group

Kathy Strong’s MIA bracelet

By Theresa Harrington
Sunday, February 13th, 2011 at 7:53 pm in Education, Theresa Harrington.

Kathy Strong, of Walnut Creek, has worn an MIA bracelet for 38 years. She plans to take it off in May and bury it with the remains of the soldier whose name it bears.

Kathy Strong, of Walnut Creek, has worn an MIA bracelet for 38 years. She plans to take it off in May and bury it with the remains of the soldier whose name it bears.

I first met Kathy Strong three years ago, when she called to tell me about the MIA/POW bracelet she had been wearing on her wrist for more than 35 years.

I wrote two stories about her that year — one in February, when she marked 40 years since James Leslie Moreland’s death, and one July 4, about the friendships she forged with Moreland’s family and fellow Green Berets.

When Moreland’s remains were found, Strong again called me to share the news. Here’s a link to a video I shot of her the day I interviewed her: http://qik.com/video/35804223.

In writing about Strong’s quest to find out more information about Moreland, I also spoke with the Green Beret’s commanding officer Paul Longgrear and a fellow soldier Richard Allen.

They both sent me e-mails today regarding Strong, Moreland and Strong’s commitment to wearing the bracelet for so long. Here’s what they had to say:

FROM PAUL LONGGREAR, WHO WILL OFFICIATE AT MORELAND’S BURIAL:

“Q: 1. How many memorial/burial services for MIAs have you officiated at?

A: This is the first although I’ve done some MIA-POW ceremonies. The Army has them annually at each military post/fort.

Q. What sense of closure do you feel this brings to the families?

A: One never gives up hope until there is a casket with proof in it. Moreland’s parents died without closure.

Q: If you know, what do you think you might say at the service regarding Moreland?

A: I want evervone to know how much respect Jim received from his peers. I have lined up his old military school to provide some current cadets for participation in the service. To be a SF medic one had to be academically qualified for Officer school. Jim was a terrific football player and carried that mind set into the military with him. He had a can do never give up attitude, etc., etc., etc.

Q. Now that you have gotten to know Kathy Strong a bit, what do you think of her commitment to wearing the bracelet until Moreland’s remains come home? Do you think it is unusual?

A: There are a handful of people in all the world that have the patriotic resolve that Kathy has. I am convinced that she is a guardian angel provided to watch over Jim’s time in MIA status. The fact that she knows all his buddies and family speaks for the supernatural relationship she has with him.

Q: Is there anything more you would like to say about your time with Moreland in Vietnam, Kathy Strong, MIA bracelets or anything else you believe could be related to this story?

A: This has healed a festering wound in my soul. I can now rest because he was the last of my men that we lost on the battle field. There are two more men missing from that battle but they were with the A-team and I don’t feel quite the responsibility for them as for my personal soldiers. I can now focus my prayers for their return but I can do it without the guilt that I dealt with over (Green Berets) Lindewald, Burke, Thompson, Brande and Moreland.”

FROM RICHARD ALLEN:

“Q: Will you attend the burial?

A: I will certainly try to do so.

Q: What sense of closure do you feel this brings to the families?

A: A sense of relief, that James, who served his Country with distinction, can finally be laid to rest, beside his parents.

A: Now that you have gotten to know Kathy Strong a bit, what do you think of her commitment to wearing the bracelet until Moreland’s remains come home?

A: There is a Patriot, and I don’t know her politics. When you are serving in combat, one of the things that keeps you going is having someone who cares about you at home. Personally, I received a ‘Dear John’ letter from my girl back in L.A. in the afternoon of Feb 6th, and I would have much rather known that there was someone like Kathy who cared about me and my team. In fact I remember that many women couldn’t be celibate for 12 months while their boyfriend or husband was in harm’s way.

Q. Is there anything more you would like to say about Kathy Strong?

Kathy is the real story, she held onto the memory of a fallen warrior for 40 + years, and was active in her support. Translate that to today. Although there are only a relative handful, how many Iraq, or Afghanistan MIA’s are remembered, by a girl/woman who can sympathize with them and their loved ones, and remember as well, that these men sacrificed themselves for our Country?

These fallen heroes are forgotten and tossed aside. Instead, Americans sit back and watch American Idol, and have more emotional involvement with Snooki. To me, this is really quite embarrasing for a culture and a Country as powerful (as we once were).”

Here are the two other stories I wrote about Strong:

SOLDIER MISSING BUT NOT FORGOTTEN:
AFTER 35 YEARS, WOMAN STILL WEARS MIA BRACELET

PUBLISHED Thursday, 2/28/2008

WALNUT CREEK — She’s never met him, and it’s likely that he’s dead. Yet Kathy Strong feels a powerful bond with James Leslie Moreland.

He was a Green Beret in the Vietnam War who has been Missing in Action since Feb. 7, 1968. Strong has worn a bracelet engraved with Moreland’s name for more than 35 years, fulfilling a promise she made when she received it to keep the simple stainless steel band on her wrist until he returned home.

“I was in seventh grade when I put the bracelet on,” said Strong, a 47-year-old Walnut Creek resident who works in Richmond. “He was missing almost five years by the time I got the bracelet.”

She received the bracelet Christmas Day 1972 in her stocking. It was one of about 5 million bracelets made to remind Americans of the more than 2,500 military personnel who were missing or prisoners during the Vietnam War.

Moreland, who lived in Anaheim, is one of 1,788 troops still missing from that war. Of those, 179 are from California.

Dating back to World War II, there are about 88,000 troops unaccounted for, said Capt. Mary Olsen, spokeswoman for the Defense Department’s Prisoner of War-Missing in Action, or POW-MIA, office. Currently, four soldiers are missing in Iraq.

“I was very young when Vietnam was going on,” said Strong, who lived in Southern California when she received the bracelet. “I don’t really understand a lot of the politics behind it. But personally, I don’t believe we should go to any other war until we get our men back from the last war.”

As Strong grew into adulthood, she gradually learned more about the man who has been a presence in her life for decades.

Through research in books about Vietnam, Strong found that Moreland was seriously injured and presumed dead at age 22 in the battle at Lang Vei. When she marked the 40th anniversary earlier this month of the last time he was seen alive, , Strong decided to make her story public to remind people in Contra Costa County and the country that there are still hundreds of American military personnel missing and that she and others are keeping their memories alive.

“I’ve never been to Vietnam,” Strong said. “But I still feel a connection with my MIA as well as the others who were with him the night he died.”

Paul Longgrear, Moreland’s commanding officer, survived the battle and now lives near Atlanta. Longgrear shed light on Moreland’s probable death in a phone interview with the Times.

After being attacked, Longgrear, Moreland and a handful of other men retreated into an underground bunker, said Longgrear, 64. Moreland was a medic in the small mobile strike force.

Moreland climbed up to retrieve a machine gun, said Longgrear, who was 25 at the time.

“While he was there,” Longgrear said, “a tank shot at him and shattered the back of his head with shrapnel. It was a very devastating wound, but he was a tough kid.”

Moreland lived through the night and was injured again when the enemy began blowing up the camp, Longgrear said. The officer and his men decided to make a break for it.

“When we got ready to go,” he said, “Moreland was unresponsive. The best we could determine, he was dead or wasn’t going to live. Everybody was wounded, and we were kind of limited in what we could do for each other.”

Longgrear and some others were picked up by a special forces helicopter. A few men were captured.

“Moreland’s body was never found,” Longgrear said. “He was a great kid. We used to have a lot of fun. He was a good-looking kid, about 6-foot-1, 185 pounds. He had a real cocky attitude. We all did. We were Green Berets — thought we were 10 feet tall and bulletproof.”

Longgrear said that he and other veterans are glad that people such as Strong have worn their POW-MIA bracelets for all these years, in honor of their fallen friends.

“It makes me very appreciative of someone who loves America and appreciates a person who would go and sacrifice their life,” Longgrear said. “I think it’s wonderful that this young lady cares enough not to give up hope. And that’s what I think the bracelet symbolizes — that we will not forget you.”

Strong said she would like to meet Moreland’s family, but Longgrear said he doubted the family would be receptive. Moreland’s sister contacted Longgrear twice to talk about her brother.

“I know his parents are dead,” Longgrear said. “It’s very difficult. It’s such an emotional thing. The whole family became a victim because when you’re missing (someone) like that, there’s no closure.”

The League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia has continued to pressure the government to bring the remains of their loved ones home. The original group that sold the POW-MIA bracelets disbanded in 1976.

But the Ohio chapter of the league has revived the effort, selling bracelets with the names of about 100 missing troops who served in Vietnam. Their families have given permission for the sale. In addition, bracelets for Navy Capt. Scott Speicher, missing from the 1991 Gulf War, and Army Sgt. Keith Maupin, a prisoner of war in Iraq, also are available.

Liz Flick, who distributes the bracelets for the chapter, said she and others she knows have been wearing their bracelets as long as Strong.

“It is very definitely a brotherhood of those of us who wear the bracelets,” she said. “If you’re out and you see someone with the bracelet and you hold up your wrist, it’s an immediate connection — like yes, you’re working on this, too.”

Strong said she’s happy to know that there is a network of people like her in the country. And if Moreland’s remains are not recovered in her lifetime, she is determined to die with the bracelet still wrapped around her wrist.

“It’s just a promise I made to this person, and it’s a promise I intend on keeping.” Strong said. “I could take the bracelet off, and probably no one would notice. But I would know.”

FOR MORE

More information about military Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action is at www.pow-miafamilies.org or www.powmialeague.org and www.dtic.mil/dpmo

Details about Special Forces killed in Southeast Asia are at www.sfahq.com

POW/MIA bracelets can be purchased by sending a check or money order for $10 to Ohio Chapter MIA/POW, Attn: Mrs. Liz Flick, P.O. Box 14853, Columbus, OH 43214.

—————————————————— 

FOR SOME, VIETNAM STILL FORGING BONDS

Published: Friday, 7/4/2008

By Theresa Harrington
Staff writer

WALNUT CREEK: For more than 35 years, Kathy Strong has tried to learn all she could about a soldier missing in Vietnam whose name she wears on a bracelet around her wrist.

Her dreams of one day meeting James Leslie Moreland’s family and fellow soldiers came true over the past two months, when she flew to Washington state and met his sisters, then flew to Los Angeles for a Weekend of Heroes convention honoring Moreland’s commanding officer.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Strong, as she looked through her trip photos and mementoes at her Walnut Creek home recently. “I wanted to know that somebody loved him and somebody missed him and I could definitely tell that from my visits.”

Strong’s journey began when she received the thin metal band in her Christmas stocking as a teenager in 1972. In the decades that followed, she watched news reports to see if Moreland or his remains returned home, but he remained missing.

Her attachment to him grew, leading Strong to seek out books and Web sites that mentioned Moreland and the Feb. 7, 1968 battle of Lang Vei, where he was last seen alive. Five months ago, she marked the 40th anniversary of his disappearance by telling her story to the Times. She mentioned she wanted to speak to Moreland’s family and those who served with him.

“Now, you are a part of the story,” she told the Times.

Her words turned out to be prophetic.

The Times telephoned Paul Longgrear, who had been Moreland’s commanding officer, for the original story. He agreed to speak with Strong and the two arranged to meet in June in California.

After Strong’s story was published Feb. 28, it made its way via e-mail and the Internet to Moreland’s sisters in Washington, and to Richard Allen in Sherman Oaks in Southern California. One of 24 Green Berets who served with Moreland at the battle of Lang Vei, Allen contacted the Times that afternoon and agreed to speak with Strong.

“I have built a Web site commemorating that battle and those who stood their ground against overwhelming odds,” Allen wrote in an e-mail. “I would say that a vast majority of us feel that we were forgotten, so it is great to see that some are still remembered.”

Moreland’s sister Linda contacted the Times a month later, asking to get in touch with Strong.

“I was 19 years old when my brother became listed as MIA,” she wrote in an e-mail. “I hope to one day get good news.”

Thrilled to hear from people who could shed more light on Moreland, Strong arranged to meet Linda and her sister Anita at a restaurant in May. Allen agreed to meet Strong and Longgrear in June.

After returning from both meetings, Strong was eager to share her newfound knowledge with the Times, in part because readers were so responsive to the first story about her and her bracelet.

Moreland’s sisters recounted stories about fishing with their brother and gave Strong a copy of his high school graduation photo, featuring a smiling face with brown eyes and dimples. Anita told Strong that Moreland had wanted to become a dentist and live in the Rogue River area after serving in the war.

Prompted by the Times story, Linda contacted the Ohio chapter of Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Families and agreed to allow Moreland’s name to be distributed on new MIA bracelets.

Strong ordered several bracelets with Moreland’s name and presented them to Longgrear and Allen, who continue to wear them.

During their meeting, Longgrear signed an autograph for Strong, calling her Moreland’s “guardian angel.”

“I think that kind of spoke to her spirit,” Longgrear said in a phone interview from Georgia last week.

Allen said Strong impressed him as a true patriot. He hopes to get more information from Moreland’s family for his Web site.

“There’s two sides to any military person’s story,” Allen said in a Thursday phone interview. “There’s their own personal battle experience and there’s their family experiences back home.”

Strong now has both sides of Moreland’s story.

And she remains committed to wearing his bracelet until she learns the true ending.

“The journey’s not over,” Strong said. “I feel like the next chapter is we need Moreland to come home.”

FEB. 16 UPDATE: A CBS Channel 5 reporter called me yesterday, saying he wanted to do a TV news piece following up on my story. Kathy Strong called to say it will be broadcast at 10 p.m. on the CW (channel 12 or 44), on Channel 5 at 11 p.m. and will be available after midnight at www.cbssf.com.

Do you agree with Allen’s comment that many “fallen heroes are forgotten and tossed aside?”

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

  • http://yahoo.com Bill Martinez

    Hi I read the article about Kathy Stong and Sargent James Leslie Moreland. I looked more in depth but nothing says where Sargent Moreland remains where found. I would like to know it would finish the story off for me.

    Thank You Bill

  • Theresa Harrington

    I believe his remains were found in Lang Vei, Vietnam. They are now in Hawaii and will be flown with a military escort to Alabama.

  • Bill Bell

    Leave No Man Behind
    by Garnett Bill Bell
    4209 Boys Ranch Road
    Lavaca, AR 72941
    479-674-5449

    “No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now. Rarely have so many people been so wrong about so much. Never have the consequences of their misunderstanding been so tragic.” (Nixon)

    “Psychologists or sociologists may explain some day what it is about that distant monochromatic land, of green mountains and fields merging with an azure sea, that for millennia has acted as a magnet for foreigners who sought glory there and found frustration, who believed that in its rice fields and jungles some principle was to be established and entered them only to recede in disillusion.”
    (Henry Kissinger, White House Years, 1979. Reminiscing about Vietnam)

    Leave No Man Behind: An eyewitness account of the Vietnam War from its early stages through the last day of the Republic, 30 April 1975. A startling new look at the postwar era and the issue of America’s unreturned veterans listed as POW/MIA, an issue that has haunted America since the beginning of American involvement. Shrouded in controversy, a subject of great emotion amid charges of governmental conspiracy and Communist deceit, the possibility of American servicemen being held in secret captivity after the war’s end has influenced U.S. policy toward Southeast Asia for three decades. Now, the first chief of the U.S. Government’s only official office in postwar Vietnam provides an insider’s account of that effort. The challenges he faced in dealing with U.S. politicians, including Vietnam veterans, Senators John McCain and John Kerry, are an ardent reminder of the many similarities in the bloody wars fought by American troops in both Vietnam and Iraq-Afghanistan. In an illuminating and deeply personal memoir, the government’s top missing persons investigator in Southeast Asia, who later became a member of the U.S. Congressional Staff, discusses the history of the search for missing Americans, reveals how the Communist Vietnamese stonewalled U.S. efforts to discover the truth, and how the standards for MIA case investigations were gradually lowered while pressure for expanded commercial and economic ties with communist Vietnam increased. Leave No Man Behind is the compelling story of a dedicated group of professionals who, against great odds, were able to uphold the proud military traditions of duty, honor and country.

    Every American fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan should read ‘Leave No Man Behind.’

    As the US Marine Corps helicopter lifted from the roof of the American Embassy in Saigon at daybreak on April 30, 1975, I thought about the carnage that would result from a heat-seeking missile fired by Vietnamese Communist forces gradually encircling the besieged capital of the dying Republic of Vietnam (RVN). Exhausted by a lack of sleep for the previous several days, I no longer felt fear, only curiosity. Tears welled up in my eyes, perhaps due in part to the anguish of witnessing the tragic events unfolding before me, but also from caustic smoke belched out of rooftop incinerators glowing cherry-red from reams of frantically burned secret US Government documents. Feeling a sense of relief, I nevertheless harbored an even stronger sense of guilt. On the Republic of Vietnam’s final day, as I looked down into the gradually diminishing compound and into the terrified eyes in the upturned faces of hundreds of Vietnamese nationals and citizens of other countries friendly to the United States, who were being left behind, I knew that I would be haunted for many years to come. As the venerable ‘Sea Stallion’ throbbed its way through the damp morning air toward a helicopter carrier anchored off the coast at Vung Tau, blazing multicolored tracers rising from the dark-canopied jungle below bade farewell to America and to an era known as the Vietnam War.

    During the more than 30 minute flight into the future I sat angry and confused after some 10 years of involvement with a faraway place called Vietnam. I wondered whether the sacrifices in lives and national treasure made by America had been worthwhile or in vain. After contemplating the issue for many years, I believe it is now time to take stock of the American War in Vietnam so that Americans, especially those of us who served there, can finally decide whether or not we now have cause for a celebration or the lingering agony of defeat.

    With the fall of the RVN, as many analysts had predicted, jubilant communist forces quickly invaded and occupied the populated areas. Hundreds of thousands of former military and civilian officials were required to be screened, classified and registered as enemies of the revolution to be detained in remote, isolated concentration camps under horrific conditions. Thousands died due to disease and malnutrition, many never to be heard from again by family members. At the same time, the communist leadership insisted that the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the north and the Provisional Revolutionary Government in the south be united as one.

    From that day forward, according to the constitution, only one political party, the Vietnam Communist Party, would be allowed to exist. On official letterheads of government stationery the three previously used terms comprising the national motto of the communist north: ‘Freedom, Independence and Democracy’ were changed forever to read ‘Freedom, Independence and Happiness.’ To the Vietnamese people this change in terminology, especially the reference to happiness, would provide one of the few sources of humor during a desperate time. To add insult to injury, the graves of fallen RVN military personnel were razed by bulldozers in cemeteries across the country. Typewriters, radios, televisions and anything that could be used for propagation or communication were required to be registered with the ‘Military Management Committee’ responsible for political security under the new ‘Socialist Republic of Vietnam.’ As interest began to wane, occasional references to the Vietnam War coined phrases such as ‘a noble cause’ or ‘an unnecessary war.’ The question as to whether the Vietnam War was or was not necessary was just as divisive in postwar debate as it was during the days following the 1968 ‘Tet Offensive.’ In my own assessment of both the necessity for and the outcome of the Vietnam War two primary considerations were the U.S. national interest at the time and the mission of the U.S. Military Forces that fought in Southeast Asia.

    The overall mission of U.S. military forces for the latter part of the 20th century began to take shape shortly after the conclusion of World War II. At that time the policy of the United States was one of containment of Communism. I believed that this policy was fully justified, because it was obvious that the Communist International, especially Russia and China, sought to ‘liberate’ the entire world. This policy of containment became known as the ‘Cold War.’ Although there were numerous clashes involving air crews during missions involving special operations and reconnaissance, the first major battlefield of that war erupted in 1950 on the Korean Peninsula, where the successful accomplishment of the mission of containing communism there was dubbed by the media as a ‘stalemate.’

    At the beginning of the War in Vietnam, the basic mission of American soldier worldwide was to kill, destroy, or capture the enemy, or repel his assault by fire. Over one million men and women answered their nation’s call, and they did their level best to carry out their mission in Southeast Asia. As a result, some 58,000 Americans and some 225,000 allied personnel made the ultimate sacrifice, while by comparison, communist Vietnam suffered the loss of over 1,300,000 personnel, including 150,000 personnel who were killed-in-action but never recovered. I personally witnessed the strongest blow struck at communist forces by hard-fighting American and South Vietnamese troops that occurred during the January 31, 1968, ‘Tet’ offensive. The bodies of thousands of communist personnel were stacked in piles around installations throughout South Vietnam, and losses were so heavy for the communist side that the entire military rank structure was temporarily abandoned and cadre selected to command and control units were assigned based on position or job title only, rather than actual military rank. The loss of life to the communist side was nothing less than staggering, and any U.S. military commander whose losses approached even a small percentage of actual communist fatalities at that time would most likely have been relieved of command.

    Even though America’s servicemen and women fought valiantly during the 1968 ‘Tet’ offensive, the U.S. and international media nevertheless managed to reshape their hard-earned victory into a political defeat. Vietnamese communist propaganda experts were so skillful that they were able to convince many members of the media and even some military analysts that two separate governments, the National Liberation Front in South Vietnam and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the North, existed side by side and that both were involved in a ‘civil war.’ It has since been proven that both the NLF and the DRV were tightly controlled by the Vietnam Communist Party and both governments were actually one and the same. Moreover, personnel of the two purported military organizations of both illusionary governments, the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and the Viet Cong (VC), were in reality members of the Peoples Army of Vietnam (PAVN).

    Admittedly, in terms of national treasure the Vietnam War was not cheap. Depending on which expert’s figures are used, the total cost of the Vietnam War to America was somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 billion dollars. By comparison the overall U.S. defense budget during postwar, peacetime years exceeded that amount annually. In reality one million men could not have been trained at U.S.-based training centers for a 10 year period, even using blank ammunition, for a lesser amount. While the Vietnam War was certainly a drain on the U.S. economy, during the decade of our of engagement there the former Soviet Union also provided significant amounts of financial and material support to communist forces deployed throughout Southeast Asia. Support by the USSR to Vietnam, the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan and a badly managed, centrally controlled economy all combined to bring the former Soviet Union to its knees and bring about the collapse of the Communist Party. Ultimately this collapse led to the end of the Cold War. Veterans of the Cold War, especially those who fought in Korea and Vietnam, now enjoy the gratitude of the peoples of many European, East Asian and Southeast Asian nations. It is now clear that as a result of the sacrifices made by American and allied veterans, today the people of Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia are living under freely elected governments. This accounts for one quarter of the earth’s population.

    Obviously, the true losers of the Vietnam War are the Vietnamese people, not just the people of the former Republic of Vietnam, but citizens from all areas of the country, including the north. Although millions of Vietnamese ‘voted with their feet’ by escaping on small boats across dangerous ocean currents, resulting in staggering losses to mankind, today millions more freedom-loving Vietnamese still yearn to be free. I believe that the two most important bilateral issues remaining between the U.S. and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam are an accounting for the almost 1,800 Americans still missing from the Vietnam War and democracy for the Vietnamese people.

    Successive administrations in Washington, D.C. have pressed for democracy in many countries around the world, including Russia, Haiti, South Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq. But there has been very little interest shown in gaining democracy for Asians, and this double standard is difficult to understand. It is almost as though we Americans have a collective mentality whereby we believe that peoples with yellow skin cannot manage freedom, and that tight control is the only option available.

    The American business community, aggressively buying up cheap products manufactured in Asia for resale on the U.S. market, is blinded by the lack of labor unions, cheap wages and fear of violent reprisals against labor strikes. It is ironic that after some 58,000 fine young Americans died in Vietnam while fighting for democracy the American business community is now steadily developing the economy of communist controlled Vietnam, insuring that the Vietnam Communist Party will not only remain in power, but that it will increasingly have the ability to maintain an even larger and more powerful military force. Concerning the plight of the families of Vietnam War POWs and MIAs, democracy can also go a long way to help in this regard. I believe that most Americans, especially Vietnam veterans, will agree that for the most part the Vietnamese people are honest and hardworking. Like our people right here at home, I can’t imagine a situation where the people of Vietnam would be willing to hide the remains of anyone’s loved one in order to extort money from them. Although during the past 30 years the ruling communists have gradually doled out bits and pieces of skeletal remains and personal effects in return for large monetary sums, once the Vietnam Communist Party has collapsed the Vietnamese people will rise to the occasion and provide whatever assistance is necessary to resolve the issue of our missing men. We should all be doing everything we can to make sure that day comes.

    Garnett ‘Bill’ Bell, a retired GM-14, DoD, went to Vietnam as an infantryman in 1965 and served four tours there. Bell was awarded 20 individual decorations and numerous unit awards. Bell later served as an instructor in the Department of Exploitation and Counterintelligence, U.S. Army Intelligence Center and school. During his career Bell served in the 327th Airborne Battle Group, 101st Airborne Division, the 1/35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, the 2/506th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, the 101st MI Company, the 525th Military Intelligence Group, the Defense Language Institute, the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, the 6th Special Forces Group, the Joint Casualty Resolution Center (JCRC), the Four Party Joint Military Team (FPJMT) and the Joint Task Force Full-Accounting (JTFFA). Bell’s wife and son were killed and a daughter critically injured in April 1975, when the families of U.S. officials assigned to the American Embassy in Saigon were evacuated in conjunction with the ‘Operation Babylift’ program. After being evacuated by helicopter from the roof of the American Embassy on the final day of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) (30 April 1975), Bell returned to postwar Vietnam as the first official U.S. representative after the war ended when he was assigned as the Chief of the U.S. Office for POW/MIA Affairs in Hanoi. He served more than 12 years on the POW/MIA Search Teams. An Airborne-Ranger and Jumpmaster, Bell eventually became a member of the Congressional Staff, U.S. House of Representatives. Fluent in Vietnamese, Thai and Laotian, Bell is a graduate of Chaminade University and the author of ‘Leave No Man Behind.’ Bell is employed as an investigator in the 12th Judicial District western Arkansas.

    “This book is one of the most accurate and detailed accounts of the Vietnam War from beginning to end. It is arguably the very best book ever written concerning the important POW/MIA issue. No one, military, civilian official, or private citizen, has contributed as much as Bill Bell to the national effort to recover and repatriate America’s unreturned veterans from the Vietnam War. Every veteran of any war definitely needs to read this important work, which I believe is destined to become an icon that will withstand the test of time. Bill Bell certainly deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his courageous efforts.
    Michael Depaulo, USMC (ret), Vietnam Vet, National Service Officer, Rolling Thunder Inc.”

    This book isn’t just for the soldier, student, or history buff. It’s also for the average American who should know more about the Vietnam War, how
    people in our CURRENT government felt and behaved then, and how the war in Iraq really is similar. A very compelling story. 474 pages, semi-hardback: ISBN 096476634-5,

    Signed copy available at billbell@pinncom.com for $19.95 or from http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0964766345/ref=dp_olp_collectible?ie=UTF8

  • Theresa Harrington

    FYI, we have just embedded a video I produced from my first interview with Strong online with the story at http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_17379207?IADID=Search-www.contracosta.
    At that time (in February 2008), Strong had not yet met Moreland’s family and Moreland’s remains had not been found.

  • Theresa Harrington

    The Birmingham News has followed my story from the Alabama family angle: http://bit.ly/dUVOzk. CBS 5 also followed: http://bit.ly/hO5Tlw

  • http://www.weekendtorememberfilm.com mark arguello

    Yes, I agree with Mr. Allen. If memory serves me, wasn’t the battle at Lang Vei was a Special Forces camp that was attack just as the Siege of Khe Sahn, USMC base began.

    I have a friend with the 12th Air Cavalry whose company was sent in to retrieve the Special Forces soldier (killed in action) who was nominated for the Medal of Honor. My film project honors and remembers our fallen veterans.

    Thanks to Kathy Strong for keeping SF Moreland memory alive. It is an honor to know a woman like Kathy.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Strong said Moreland was heading to the Tactical Operations Center when he was shot, according to a book she has about the battle, called “Night of the Silver Stars.” It says he was a medic in the Mobile Strike Force and received a severe head injury.
    She also relied on another book called “Green Berets at War” to find out more information about Moreland.
    Strong called this weekend to tell me that CBS, New York is going to interview her in her home on Wednesday.
    “It’s all very exciting and the Moreland family has agreed to be interviewed as well,” she said. “It’s just amazing that this news has gone national. I want to thank you for writing those three great articles that have cause so many people to be interested in my story.”
    This is what journalism is all about!

  • Darryl

    Kathy:

    I just saw the CBS News piece and I wanted to say that you are amazing! I missed Vietnam by a couple of years but lost many of my high school friends to the war.

    The world needs more people like you……I would love to meet you in person!

    All the best,
    Darryl

  • Theresa Harrington

    FYI, Kathy Strong’s story will be featured on the CBS national news at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time today: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/03/07/eveningnews/main20040295.shtml?tag=cbsnewsTwoColUpperPromoArea#comments. Unfortunately, the CBS story doesn’t mention that Strong met Moreland’s family as a result of the articles I wrote in the Times.

  • Paul McDonald

    Thank you for your eternal watch for this military man.
    There are few inspirational stories these days; yours is one.
    As an aspiring, young Marine, I missed Viet Nam by 3 weeks.
    Viet Nam was to be, as they say,”my war.”
    I was lucky. Time was my friend.
    Thank you for your abiding belief in the importance of this man.
    Your persistent faith is what eternal life is all about.
    A small part of each person who passes resides forever in another person, who does not forget that person; you have passed that part to me, and to others-and so it goes.
    May your spirit imbue us all, Kathy!

  • Darryl II

    Kathy, I Just watched Steve Hartman’s Assignment America piece on CBS about you, and all I can say is that I was extremely impressed by your commitment to keeping that promise made all those years ago. Not many people would be so faithful & diligent to do what you did; I commend you!!! Funny, but Theresa’s one article mentions that James wanted to be a dentist practicing in the “Rogue River” area, and I am born, raised,and still live in the Rogue River Valley of Oregon; God’s country. Having graduated high school in ’66, I too lost several school mates to that war. I will be praying for you & his sisters as you attend James’ service with full military honors. What a blessing you are!!! God bless, Darryl II

  • http://bobbievee.tripod.com/James.html barbara vasquez

    i also have james l. moreland braclet ….. i’m not as strong as kathy was, i had to take mine off….. i’m so glad he’s home.

    barb

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here’s the link to the CBS News video: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7358801n&tag=related;photovideo.
    Kathy also invited me to the burial. Unfortunately, though, it’s not in our newspaper budget.

  • Doctor J

    I think everyone ought to send CBS News Correspondent Steve Hartman an email assignment@cbsnews.com to ask him to give credit to Theresa Harrington of the CC Times for her stories that resulted in Kathy Strong meeting the Moreland’s family. He said he will attend the funeral. Theresa needs to find funding for her trip there to complete the story.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here’s the final chapter of Strong’s bracelet story: http://www.contracostatimes.com/walnut-creek-alamo/ci_18065573.
    I wasn’t able to attend the funeral, but our former editor Mike Oliver, was there.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Kathy Strong called to tell me CBS will air its second installment about her tonight on Channel 5 from 5:30 to 6 PM as part of “Assignment America,” which is usually near the end of the show.

  • Pingback: Kathy Strong’s bracelet « grumpysbackup

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here’s the link to the CBS video about Kathy Strong finally taking her bracelet off before Moreland’s funeral: http://cbsloc.al/ivtphq

  • Theresa Harrington

    The City of Walnut Creek plans to invite Strong to their Memorial Day ceremony on May 30.
    Strong called me this morning to tell me how touched she has been by the outpouring of gifts, cards, e-mails and mementos she has received in response to her story.
    She also sweetly thanked me for my role in helping to make her presence at the funeral possible, since she would never have met Moreland’s family if I hadn’t written about her pledge to wear his bracelet until he was found.
    “It’s just amazing what one story can do,” she told me.
    That’s what keeps us reporters going! :)

  • Doctor J

    Theresa, you deserve an award for the story — YOU made this happen. Keep up the good work !

  • Destiny Maxon

    Theresa, I represent the Maxon Show which airs on AM 630 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Mark Maxon, heard of Kathy Strong this week on CBS, and would love the opportunity to interview her on the next series titled “What the Next Generation of Americans Must Know and Do.” Her character is a monumental demonstration of what the young people of American could gain. Please let me know on how you and I can get in tough and we will go from there. Thank you for a great story.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I’ve contacted Kathy and will let you know what she says (I’m guessing she’ll agree).
    Please email me your contact information at tharrington@bayareanewsgroup.com.
    Thanks!

  • https://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=677682334 Julie Nellis

    Good Morning ~ I would love to connect with Kathy Strong. Today would have been my father’s 72nd birthday. He was a Navy pilot, who flew off the USS Constellation. He is still an MIA (Laos, 1968)and I wear my grandmother’s bracelet that she wore up until her death in 1995. It has been 43 years for us as well. My dad has one more brother remaining, who is still very involved in the League of Family Members Missing in SE Asia, MIA/POW.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Please send your email address and/or phone number to me at tharrington@bayareanewsgroup.com, so that I can forward your contact information to Kathy Strong.