HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – It was December 13th, 1968. A night strike over Laos.
Colonel Francis McGouldrick’s aircraft collided with another, and he was never seen again.
Flash forward to 1985. ROTC Cadet Mike Askew received a bracelet, etched with the name of a hero, gone missing in action.
“Colonel McGouldrick’s name was on one of the bracelets, so I picked his bracelet and have been wearing it ever since.”
Twenty-eight years have passed. Askew has worn McGouldrick’s name on his wrist every day since.
“We have made a commitment to our service members to never leave anyone behind and this bracelet remains a reminder of that commitment,” said Askew.
Over the years, Col. McGouldrick’s name – once etched in black lettering – has worn down to silver.
Askew has scanned the reports of the recovered or rescued Prisoners of War and Missing in Action. But he wasn’t expecting what he read on Monday.
After nearly 3 decades –
“Now there’s that announcement right in front of me. They had an announcement that his remains had been identified, and that’s when I realized my bracelet has a home.”
The tradition, started in the 1970s, dictates when a service member finally returns home, the POW/MIA bracelet be given to the family.
Askew has reached out to Col. McGouldrick’s daughter.
“If I have the opportunity to meet them, I’d simply tell them thank you for your service to our country. And welcome home.” said Askew.
December 13th, 2013 marks the 45th anniversary of the day Col. McGouldrick disappeared. At 9:30 a.m, he was finally laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
Askew hasn’t heard back from McGouldrick’s family yet. He hopes to be able to return the bracelet to them, but if he cannot, he plans to place it at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C.