Today is Memorial Day, and I have someone to remember, as I have every year since 2009. His name is Roger Cobb Hallberg, and his name was on the POW bracelet I wore as a teenager. While I was dating and going to Disneyland, he was fighting, and then disappearing, in the jungle maze of Vietnam. A brave young newlywed just vanished.
For years I waited and watched lists of returning vets to see his name. Twice I have visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington. At the long black wall I find his name and see his status. MIA. He is one of 1643 soldiers still unaccounted for in that conflict (this number has gone down, thankfully, the years I have been posting this). Imagine the families living with that.
I have kept the bracelet all these years, and have long wanted to do something to honor Roger. Then Kim Rae Nugent asked me to contribute to her book and one of the projects was working with a maze. The idea came to me right away. What was more a maze than Vietnam?
The book is a box, a sort of temple covered with papers I painted. It is intended to look geographic and cosmic, as he is somewhere, we just don’t know exactly where.
Inside are five panels. The US flag is overlaid with a map of Vietnam on the first. The second is Roger’s name on the wall in D.C. The third is a map of approximately where he went missing. The fourth is my bracelet with his name on it, and two stories. The top story is the military account of Roger’s last known day. The bottom story is what I was likely doing that day as a ten year old southern California girl, when Roger disappeared protecting his men.
In the center is Roger Cobb Hallberg and his military biographical information. The helicopter is like the one that came to rescue him, and did not find him.
I remembered Roger yesterday, and today, and I will tomorrow. My dream would be that somehow every single MIA is accounted for. Every single one.
You can help fund this search by contributing to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
Since I first posted this in 2008, I have met others who had Roger’s name on their bracelet, and I have met Roger’s sister Anne, who continues along with her brother Bruce, to endlessly search for their brother and others missing in the vast complex jungle that is Vietnam. You can read her post here.
Today give some small quiet moments to the men and women who have simply vanished in the name of freedom for us at home in the U.S. Nothing could be harder to live with than than, nothing. Blessings to the Hallberg family, my surrogate MIA family, and blessings to the memory of Roger Cobb Hallberg and his brave service.