HomeUSA newsSearching for prisoner of war lieutenant Dave Carey, a bracelet connects the...

Searching for prisoner of war lieutenant Dave Carey, a bracelet connects the Fox News editor to one of America’s heroes.


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As the war raged in Vietnam, a quiet effort started by two sorority sisters to show support for the POWs and MIAs shot down in Vietnam took off across the United States. Many of these POWs were held for years at the Hanoi Hilton. Students across the United States began wearing armbands with the name of an American prisoner of war and the date they were shot down. Stars like John Wayne, Princess Grace, and Sonny and Cher wore them.

“We and many other Americans have been wearing bracelets like this for a number of years, and it’s just our quiet way of letting them know that we remember the boys and that they are in our hearts,” Sonny said on his popular TV show with Cher.

Fox News editor Brad Paxton was one such kid who sent in his $2.50 to buy a bracelet. His bracelet honors Marine Lt. Dave Carey, shot down in North Vietnam on August 31, 1967.

“It was a trend that was happening and we wanted to be a part of it. It became something much deeper for me…after wearing the bracelet for so long, I made a mental commitment to keep her name on my mind,” says Paxton.

He estimates that around 50% of his high school wore a bracelet in the past.

“This was a way of showing support for the troops without, in an apolitical way. You didn’t have to be in favor of the war against the war. You could just be in support of these people who had been captured,” Paxton said.

He kept the bracelet in a trinket box in his basement. Prompted by a conversation with his wife about the bracelets and how they united the country during a divisive war, he decided to try to find Carey, the man whose name he wore on his wrist when he was in the eighth grade.

“I went downstairs and got a box out. I knew exactly where she was and I looked for her and then like lightning, it’s like I should just see what happened to this guy,” Paxton said.

Armband in honor of Lieutenant David Carey.


He found it in Texas, he was 80 years old and is now an author and motivational speaker. Carey spent five and a half years at the Hanoi Hilton, some of which coincided with John McCain, who was toppled a month and a half after him.

Paxton sent Carey an email and a photo of the bracelet. To her surprise, within minutes, Carey emailed her back, telling her that she would love to have it.

Carey told Paxton how much those bracelets meant to him.

As it turns out, Carey has been receiving emails just like Paxton’s for years.

“Those wristbands were incredibly important to us. It boosted our morale and reassured us that people back home were working on it,” says Carey.

Carey, who retired as a captain, can still vividly remember the day he was shot down.

“The missile passed right between us. There was a huge explosion. A ball of fire blew up the tail section of my plane. The plane went upside down, began to spin, spin and spin falling through the sky. I was shaking so hard focus hard. I try to see what was going on. It was just a blur.”

With his plane falling through the sky, Carey was able to see his altimeter and was thrown out of the plane. His parachute landed in the middle of a small town in North Vietnam. He still remembers the beatings.

“I was interrogated, the interrogation led to beatings, the beatings led to torture,” Carey recalls.

“My arms didn’t work. My arms worked for weeks and weeks. I ate moving on my stomach, putting my face in a bowl of rice.”

To help keep him sane, he remembered the first line of Psalm 23.

“That line kept coming to my head… The Lord is my shepherd. I could think along that line.”

Carey and her fellow prisoners found other tricks to keep their minds intact.

Carey explained: “It slipped out to me that I had taken French in high school at the Naval Academy, so I immediately became the French teacher… That was French, according to me, because there were so many things I had to invent. .”

Carey kept her sense of humor through it all.

The founder of the POW bracelet, Carol Bates Brown.

The founder of the POW bracelet, Carol Bates Brown.


Meanwhile, in California, the woman who started the bracelet movement, Carol Bates Brown, was a student at California State University, Northridge. She and a friend of hers came up with the concept of the MIA/POW bracelet and tried to convince her parents to let them go to Vietnam.

“No one wants to send two sorority girls to Vietnam in the middle of a war. The parents were horrified. So we ended up trying to make our own,” Brown said.

She and her classmates received donated materials. One of them came up with the idea of ​​putting names on the bracelets.

Brown thought, “Well, other college students might want to use them, too. And when it really took off like it did, it was just shocking and incredible.”

Brown estimates that 5 million wristbands were distributed during that time. The bracelets were especially popular between 1970 and 1973.

They cost $2.50, the price it was to see a movie.

“At the time, that was what it cost to go to the movies in the UCLA area if you were a student. So we decided if the kids could afford a movie, they’d pay for a bracelet,” Brown said.

Lieutenant David Carey.

Lieutenant David Carey.

The campaign led to a decades-long Pentagon career for Brown at the Defense Intelligence Agency in the POW/Missing Personnel office.

55 years later, Carey still carries the flag flyers in their flight suits in case they have to eject.

Carey picked it up and read it.

“You say that I am a citizen of the United States of America. I do not speak your language. Misfortune compels me to seek your help for food, shelter and protection. Please take me to someone who can ensure my safety. I return to my village , my government will reward you,” Carey read.

But when they heard that the children at home were wearing bracelets with their names on them, it gave them hope that they had not been forgotten.

“We kept our sense of humor. And we kept faith, faith in ourselves, faith in each other, faith in our country and faith in God,” Carey said.

While in captivity, one of the ways this naval aviator kept himself sane was by pretending to play the piano. After he was released, he finally learned to play a real piano. To this day, he still gets mail from grown up kids who wore those bracelets for himself and the other POWs/MIAs.


“I always knew where the bracelet was. I never forgot his name. Even 50 years later, I can tell you about Lt. David Carey,” Paxton said. “He’s a true American hero. And I’m honored to have had a little footnote in his story.”

Carey’s book, “May God Bless Your Choices,” is based on her time in captivity. She travels the country, speaking with business leaders and helping them by talking about her own experience.

Their message is this: “You are much stronger, much more resilient, much more resourceful than you would ever give yourself credit for simply not being tested.”


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