When I was in high school in the early 1970’s, I purchased a P.O.W./M.I.A. bracelet (prisoner-of-war/missing-in-action) of an American serviceman in the Vietnam War.
The information on my bracelet was “Capt. David Dingee” and the date “6-27-72” which was the date he either was made a prisoner or became missing. I later found out a few months after I had purchased my bracelet that Captain Dingee was a P.O.W. and that date was the date he was captured. I was then given a blue sticky star to put on my bracelet as an indication that he was a P.O.W.
Ever since that long ago time, I had occasionally wondered what had happened to Captain Dingee. Did he return to America? Did he die in prison in Vietnam? What had been his fate?
I still have Captain Dingee’s bracelet and earlier this week, I mentioned to my brother, Keith, (who is also an armed services veteran, having served in both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy) about those long-time questions. He suggested that I do some Internet research to see if I could find any information about Captain Dingee.
I had occasionally thought about doing that ever since my first computer many years ago but it was one of those questions I wasn’t too sure I wanted to discover the answer. I had always long hoped that Captain Dingee had somehow managed to come back home, alive, but I was always afraid to find out for sure, especially if that had not happened.
But tonight after thinking about Donald Trump’s many stupid statements, including his disparagement of P.O.W.s, I finally made up my mind to find out the truth about Captain David Dingee.
So I Googled his name and his rank and I was so relieved to find out that yes, he had been safely returned to America!
David Burgoyne Dingee was a Captain in the Air Force when he was shot down while flying his F-4 plane and was captured on June 27, 1972. Discovering that he had been in the Air Force made me glad because my oldest and dearest friend, Barb, was also an Air Force veteran as well.
Captain Dingee was on his 2nd tour in Vietnam and had already flown over 300 missions before he was shot down and captured. He spent ten months in a North Vietnamese prison camp and he was released from that camp on March 28, 1973.
He was happily reunited with his wife, Linda, and his three sons, Steven, Mark and Scott. He remained in the Air Force until his retirement in 1992 at the rank of Colonel. For his bravery, he was given a Silver Star and two Purple Hearts.
Prior to his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force in 1967, he had obtained a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Arizona. After his retirement, he was a corporate pilot for NASA, Universal Studios and KB Home. He died February 18, 2012 at the age of 69 from complications from Multiple Myeloma. He and his wife had enjoyed 51 years of marriage.
I really wish I had now researched my P.O.W. bracelet at least before Colonel Dingee had passed away. I would have liked to have told him that I had kept his bracelet all of these years, hoping and hoping all this time that he had made it home, and so glad to find out that he had.
I don’t know if hearing any of that from a perfect stranger would have been a good thing or a bad thing for him because I know of too many Vietnam War veterans who would rather not be reminded of their time there. But I still wish I had made that effort just in case he would have liked to have heard from at least one person who had his bracelet and kept good thoughts and wishes for his fate for so long.
But all of his information will be put on a card and kept in a sealed bag with Colonel Dingee’s P.O.W. bracelet for my daughter and my granddaughters. Hopefully it will serve to remind them, as it does me, that serving our country is an honor.
Thank you, Colonel Dingee, for your service and your bravery. Rest In Peace.
Colonel David B. Dingee