July 8, 2020
|5/25/2012 1:50:00 PM|
'My soldier on my arm'
NV woman to speak in Virginia, donate MIA-POW bracelet she’s worn for 41 years
|Diana Bowling, center, is flanked by Sandra Mars, from left, Roger Bowling (in back), Lori Clark, Mary Senior, Margie MacKenzie and Dennis Craft. The women are members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Ladies’ Auxiliary while Roger Bowling, Diana’s father-in-law, and Craft are members of VFW Post 2021 in North Vernon. All were involved in the sale of VFW buddy poppies earlier this month and are providing Bowling with many to take with her to a Memorial Day ceremony in Alexandria, Va.|
|Diana Bowling holds a bouquet of VFW buddy poppies that she is taking with her to decorate a Vietnam War monument in Alexandria, Va. On her right wrist she wears a duplicate of the MIA-POW bracelet that she is donating, which will go on display at the monument.—Staff Photo|
That's what Diana Marshall Bowling calls Maj. Joseph Edwin Davies.
The North Vernon woman speaks reverently of the United States Air Force pilot who has been missing in action since May 19, 1968. Davies may have been captured or may have been killed when the F4 Phantom he was piloting crashed near the North Vietnam-South Vietnam-Laos border. His remains have never been found.
Three years after that, Bowling, then a 9-year-old girl, walked the block from her family's North Vernon home to the former Nite Owl Food Mart to buy candy and a bottle of pop. The Vietnam War was still raging then and bracelets engraved with the names of American military personnel missing in action or prisoners of war were being sold throughout the nation. Bowling saw the bracelets that day at the store and bought one. She has worn it ever since.
On Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, Bowling will give a short speech in a ceremony in Alexandria, Va., in which Davies and 66 others from that city lost their lives in the Vietnam War. Davies is one of six from the Alexandria group classified in the POW-MIA group.
"I've worn that bracelet for 41 years," Bowling said. "My soldier on my arm has been like family for most of my life."
In 1989, Bowling and her sister, Patti Yount, found Davies' name on the Vietnam Memorial Wall while visiting Washington, D.C., but until about two months ago, Bowling knew little about the man.
In March, she started researching on the Internet.
"I never really used a computer until then," Bowling admitted.
She quickly found much information about Davies and the Capt. Rocky Versace Plaza and Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Alexandria. Bowling began corresponding with the Friends of Rocky Versace Foundation. At their request, she mailed them the bracelet four weeks ago. It will be put on permanent display starting with Monday's ceremony. The foundation also invited Bowling to speak. She accepted. Bowling's family and friends are helping her with the expenses of her airline flight and stay there.
Bowling had North Vernon jeweler Jim Pfeiffer engrave her another bracelet with Davies' name and MIA date, which she wears wherever she goes and will have on for Monday's ceremony.
She also will be taking 168 Veterans of Foreign Wars buddy poppies with her to adorn the memorial, thanks to VFW Post 2021 and Ladies Auxiliary in North Vernon.
"I saw where the VFW people were selling buddy poppies and went to the post to ask if it would be the right etiquette to put them on the monument markers," Bowling said.
Marcella Templeton of the VFW staff directed Bowling to Sandra Mars, auxiliary president, who not only told her that buddy poppies are proper for displaying at such memorials, but also gave her more of them for the display.
"We are thrilled to help Diana," Mars said. "I think it's great what she is doing. I haven't heard of anything like this, and Diana deserves a lot of praise. There are so many American MIAs (over 2,000) from the Vietnam War."
Others who have assisted Bowling include her mother, Hulda Reichenbach, and Byron Buckley.
"When I was a little girl, every night my mom would always remind me to include my soldier in my prayers," Bowling recalled.
Part of Bowling's speech will include these words:
"I hope I have given the family some comfort. True, I am a stranger. But Maj. Joseph Edwin Davies will forever be in my heart. He will not be forgotten by this Indiana girl."
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