Posted by Charolette Bratlie
After several years following the last time I looked up the soldier who's MIA bracelet I had worn since 1968, I decided to go on a search to see if he was still MIA.
After looking at a few sites I found that he was on a list of "remains" found and returned. It was for me a feeling I can't explain when I saw his name on that list. I had to keep looking at it and the year he was found. 2002. 41 years since I first started wearing his bracelet and repeating his name in my head and in my heart. Who was this man withs such an odd name, CW3 Wallace"Skeeter" W. Leeper. Wallace "Skeeter" Leeper. It wasn't until 8 or 9 years ago that I located information about what had happened to my soldier boy. He was on a rescue mission in a Huey along with 2 other soldiers and the Huey went down.
That was the only information they had on that site about him. Over the next several years I thought of him often. About 6 years ago a thief stole some belongings of mine including my precious soldiers bracelet. I have felt guilty since because I was not wearing it. Now today I find him on the KIA list and it only matters to me that his family and loved ones are at least in peace no longer wondering. My stolen bracelet may never be returned to me but he has been returned to his family and that is what is important. Matter of fact, my bracelet was stolen near the time his "remains" were returned .
Now as I sit in front of the computer with tears on my face and an unexplained feeling in my heart, I am relieved of the question I always wondered, "Where is he, my "Skeeter" Leeper, my missing soldier?" Now I feel I have to find his family and let them know how much they mean to me to spare their son so I can live.
If only I could see what he looked like and where is he buried. What did he like to do and did he have a girlfriend or siblings? Do they want to know about me? Should I look for them or not? How can I get the money to at least go to the Viet-Nam Memorial and see his name finally on The Wall? To put my finger on the engravement dedicated to the man who has been the love of my life and my hero since I was 10 years old. My mother came in and saw me weeping in front of the computer.
When I told her why and about the thief who stole my bracelet, at first she was angy with the thief who stole it, then her anger was directed at the other thief, the thief who stole this man from his family. The thief who took this mans life and the lives of many others and for what. He was only one person in this myrid of others who have come and gone. I believe that it's not so much about dying for your country but putting your life before others because of the love in your heart for mankind and the desire to protect others.
As I ran down the love letters from others who have these bracelets and are still waiting and wondering like I did for 40 years, I looked thru all in the year they found him, I saw his name in a letter. I stopped and read the love letter and found that another one of my soldiers who is alive had posted a letter and had also been wearing "Skeeter" Leepers name on his heart since 1972. Now I feel I must search him out and hope his e-mail is still valid. I want to hear how he has lived with Wallace Leeper and when did he find out about the recovering of ou soldiers "remains".
Has he been to The Wall, has he contacted the family and so many otherquestions. I was born in Colorado whe Leeper was from, isn't that something of a connection too.From this moment on, a feeling of something different will be in my heart regarding the war which took my potential mate from me, which took the innocence of a girl by wondering most of her life, what happened? Now I will be at peace that he's not just forgotton and decaying in a place lonely and far away.
Now my soldier has come home.