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March/April 2024 -   -  

The Search Never Stops

Just about everyone who came of age in the 1960s, especially those who served during the Vietnam War, remembers the POW/MIA bracelets that were a ubiquitous symbol of remembrance. These bracelets served as a grim reminder that many American servicemembers were missing or being held as prisoner in Vietnam. Some of these bracelets today are still worn as a testament to those still unaccounted for.

forresters daughter
Capt. Wayne Forrester's daughter Karoni Forrester, left, alongside her daughter, reaches out to touch the panel upon which her father is listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

This brings us to the story of Northern Utah Chapter 1079 member James Dooley: a retired Air Force colonel, Dooley has worn POW bracelets for nearly 20 years to honor Marine Captains Ralph Chipman and Wayne Forrester. For Dooley, these bracelets are a reminder of those unaccounted for as well as members of his squadron who did not come home from the war.

Marine Corps 1st Lt. Dooley was a bombardier/navigator of A-6 Intruders with the 533rd All-Weather Attack Squadron. While stationed at Royal Thai Air Base Nam Phong, Dooley and the other flight crews faced the harsh realities of war, including the loss of friends and hootchmates like Chipman and Forrester.

In June 1972, Dooley participated in a deployment that suffered significant losses, which included the presumed death of Capt. Lenny Robertson and the capture of 1st Lt. Al Kroboth. The 533rd lost six members in its first six months of combat, with three crews going missing.

The U.S. Marine Honor Guard salute during the internment of Capt. Ronald Chipman.

After distinguished but harrowing service in Vietnam and a subsequent accident that led to his medical disqualification from flying, Dooley returned to civilian life. He later rejoined the military, this time with the Air Force, where he served until retiring in 2008.

Fast forward 50-plus years: the DPAA identified the remains of Ralph Chipman in 2023, and his interment followed on Veterans Day. Shortly after, Ron Forresterís remains were positively identified, marking a poignant closure for Dooley and for Chipman and Forresterís other comrades and families.

Northern Utah Chapter 1079 member James Dooley, a retired Air Force colonel, has worn POW bracelets for nearly 20 years to honor Marine Captains Ralph Chipman and Wayne Forrester.

The search for MIAs continues. The legacy of the POW/MIA bracelets and the dedication of veterans such as James Dooley remind us of the importance of remembering and honoring those who served and sacrificed. On March 29, National Vietnam War Veterans Day, we are reminded of our duty never to forget and to keep searching.

As we commemorate this day, if you have a POW/MIA bracelet, consider putting it on your wrist in honor of those we are still searching for. Itís a small gesture that carries a profound message: We will never forget.




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