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Tinker civilian delivers bracelet to POW’s mother

  • Published
  • By Ron Mullan
  • Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center Public Affairs
For Carol Oakley, the POW/MIA bracelet tucked carefully away in her jewelry box for 14 years was near and dear to her heart.

The name on the bracelet was Maj. Frederick Ransbottom, an Oklahoman still missing in action from the Vietnam War. But for Ms. Oakley, F100 requirements flight chief with the 540th Combat Sustainment Squadron here, events would unfold that would make Major Ransbottom more than a name on a bracelet.

POW/MIAs have always had a special place in Ms. Oakley's heart and prayers. She bought her first POW/MIA bracelet when she was in high school in 1970.

"I wore it for two-and-a-half years and never took it off," Ms. Oakley said. "It was one of the early ones made of nickel and it began to develop a crack on the top of it."

When the Soldier whose name was on the bracelet came home from the Vietnam War, she took off the cracked bracelet and put it in her jewelry box for safe keeping. In 1992, she discovered half of the bracelet on her patio.

"One of my children had gotten a hold of it and was playing with it," Ms. Oakley said. "I never found the other half."

The loss of the bracelet was distressing.

"That bracelet meant a lot to me, I wore it for a purpose," Ms. Oakley said. "It was my way of supporting our servicemen and women. I wanted to get another bracelet."

Later that year, while on a business trip to Washington, D.C., Ms. Oakley would get her wish.

"I was visiting the Vietnam War Memorial and off to the side was a Kiosk," Ms. Oakley said. "They had POW/MIA bracelets and I bought one with the name of Maj. Frederick Ransbottom, from Oklahoma, on it."

Though the war had been over for a long time, Ms. Oakley knew the major had not returned. Instead of wearing the bracelet, she took it home and placed it in her jewelry box.

"I wasn't going to let another one break in half," she said.

Over the years, she continued to pray for his return as well as others listed as missing in action.

A few weeks ago, she saw a news report that the remains of a Major Ransbottom from Oklahoma City had been recovered, identified and would be returned to Oklahoma for internment.

"I knew immediately that was the name on my bracelet," Ms. Oakley said.

She called her daughter and told her that the name on the bracelet was that of the recently identified MIA Soldier. Ms. Oakley's daughter is an executive news producer for a local television station. Her daughter called Ms. Oakley the next day and told Ms. Oakley that the station was doing an interview with Major Ransbottom's mother, Laverne, who lives in Edmond, Okla. Ms. Ransbottom indicated that she wanted to meet Ms. Oakley.

"When we met, I presented my bracelet to her and told her that I thought it belonged to her and placed it on her wrist," Ms. Oakley said. "We hugged and Laverne told me that 'I've received a lot of bracelets in my life, but none prettier than this one.'"

The two women visited for an hour-and-a-half as Ms. Ransbottom talked about her son, his life growing up and her 38-year struggle to find him.

"Laverne has a corner of her hallway devoted to her son filled with pictures, telegrams and other memorabilia," Ms. Oakley said. "She never gave up hope in finding him."

When Major Ransbottom's effects were returned to his mother, she invited Ms. Oakley to come see them. Among his effects were his billfold, his dog tags and a class ring, undamaged, from Putnam City High School. The identification process was aided by the fact that his military identification card was intact.

"His name was clearly legible," Ms. Oakley said. "Ironically, at the bottom of the card you could read, 'If found, please drop in U.S. Post Office Box.' Laverne thought that was kind of comical."

Ms. Ransbottom plans to have a memorial service for her son in January 2007. Ms. Oakley plans to be there. She also plans on continuing the friendship. And she has already purchased another POW/MIA bracelet to replace the one she returned to Ms. Ransbottom.