“I bought a box of junk and going through it, I came across this bracelet,” Roger Johnson said.
He said he bought the box at the Santee Swap Meet when he was looking for John Wayne memorabilia. Inside the box, Roger said he found something unexpected, a copper bracelet with a name engraved on it.
“My wife said we got to find the family that this belongs to and get it home,” Roger said.
In the early 1970’s, people wore what were called POW bracelets. The bracelets honored soldiers from the Vietnam War who were prisoners of war or missing in action. Millions were sold and people vowed to wear them until the soldier was accounted for.
“Captain B.J. Cartwright, 12-22-65,” Roger said, reading what was engraved on the bracelet.
Roger said his wife Ruth Ann was dying of leukemia when they discovered the bracelet and that returning the bracelet to the soldier’s family was one of her final wishes. When Ruth Ann died, Roger came across the bracelet again and was reminded of his promise.
Roger said he didn’t know where to start when it came to finding the bracelet’s family, so he asked NBC 7 Responds for help.
With some digging, NBC 7 Responds learned Captain Billie Jack Cartwright was a Navy pilot from San Antonio, Texas. According to veteran archives, Cartwright was lost over the skies of North Vietnam on December 22, 1965.
After reading Navy records, memorial files and obituaries, NBC 7 Responds found a living relative of Captain B.J. Cartwright in Tucson, Arizona.
“My mother, Margaret Francis-Cartwright Traylor was Billie Jack’s sister,” Bill Traylor said.
Bill said he will never forget his uncle. He said he joined the Marine Corp in his uncle’s honor and nicknamed his son B.J.
“He embodied the essence of heroism, he was willing to die so others could live,” Bill said.
With the help of the Tucson NBC station, NBC 7 Responds delivered the bracelet to Bill. You can watch an extended version of the bracelet being reunited with the Cartwright-Traylor family below.