December 4th, 2004
It was probably around this time in 1989, I think, that I attended a prep class for my NCO course – part of the continuing military education program the Air Force ‘offered’. During that class it was pointed out that a POW/MIA bracelet was an approved uniform item, “so why don’t you make a donation and select a bracelet” they said.
On that day I started, hmmm – carrying? caring? preserving? respecting the memory of a complete stranger. 2LT Richard D. Bartley.
About 7 years ago, I swung into Idaho to see if I could find out more about him. I stopped in Twin Falls, used their library to search, and found that I was sadly, in the wrong part of the state, nowhere close to Clark Fork. I headed over to my sisters, instead, for thanksgiving, thankful for so many things.
I just got back from Bloods, another fantastic thanksgiving with her and Bob, and Alicia this time. Thankful for so many things. And once again, as the calendar page turns, today’s date gets me to pondering.
I wonder about Richard. What he was like, what he was doing, what he wanted to do. In Baltimore there is a nice memorial to the Korean War Veterans, with a listing of battles and dates. I believe that he was lost during a major offensive, though today I found a web site that lists a September date as his ‘casualty date’. Not sure what he was doing, except serving and fighting for his country. I wonder what Richard would think about our current fucked up situation in Iraq. How he would have voted last month. Someday I would like to find his family and let them know that I have been remembering their uncle, their brother, their father – just to make them feel a little bit better. That it was not all for nothing. Doubt a stranger’s concern would matter, but I hope it would.
As my site offers, from a veteran’s day update, the most humble of sentiments: Thank you, Richard. For your sacrifice, for you commitment.
Date of birth – May 26th, 1927. Perhaps in Clark Fork, Idaho. Richard D. Bartley, 2nd Lieutenant, United States Air Force. My bracelet says December 4th, 1950. Missing In Action. I’m looking at a web site that says it was actually September 15th, 1950 – this site has his birthday, which is a bit of new info for me. Huh…
Another site – the US Archives, says December 4th, 1950 – died while missing.
His life as an entry in a database or two. So much more than that, but only if we remember, only if we try to not forget.