In the late 1960s and 1970s, millions of Americans bought bracelets engraved with the name and rank of a missing or captured United States soldier. One Indiana girl wore hers for 43 years.
At the age of 7, Diana Marshall went to the store in 1968 for candy and a soda. While there, she bought a bracelet with the name Cpt. Joseph Davies and the date May 18, 1968, the day Davies went missing in Vietnam.
"It became part of my family, my soldier's bracelet," Marshall, who now lives in Destin, told The Log. "I knew he never came home."
In March 2012, after more than four decades wearing the bracelet, Marshall decided to track down any relatives of Davies. Through the P.O.W. Network, she found out Davies was from Alexandria, Va., where he was one of 67 local men who died or went missing and were never found in the Vietnam War.
Members of the town dedicated The Captain Rocky Versace Plaza and Vietnam Veterans' Memorial to the memory of all those men in 2002. In Alexandria, Marshall found that Davies has four surviving sons. When they heard that Marshall had the bracelet, they requested she donate it to the memorial in honor of their father.
Marshall agreed to donate the bracelet. There would be a ceremony, but Davies' family asked that she mail the bracelet from Indiana to Alexandria beforehand, an action that proved more difficult that she imagined.
"I stood on those steps at the post office for like an hour and a half," Marshall said. "It was hard for me to walk away."
During the town's Memorial Day service in May 2012, Marshall officially donated the bracelet to the Friends of Rocky Versace Foundation. Now visitors can see the bracelet in a display case at the memorial.
"The family and friends of the 67, who I encountered … still to this day it's hard for me to talk about. I'll never forget it for as long as I live," Marshall said.
Now Marshall is writing a book about her experiences, from 43 years carrying the memory of Davies, who she never knew.
A self-proclaimed "lifelong starving writer," the book deal is a dream come true for Marshall. She already has a publisher, Winding Waters Publications. She said she hopes to have a finished manuscript to the publisher in the spring of next year.