POW/MIA Tragic Realities and a Love Story

On a warm December morning, we met Carole and Jim Hickerson at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii. We were invited to attend an Arrival Ceremony for the recovered remains of six World War II and Vietnam War military personnel. Their transfer cases would then delivered to the forensics lab for identification, family notification and burial. Carole and Jim retired to the island of Oahu and attend a half dozen of these solemn ceremonies each year.

Carole and Jim Hickerson at arrival ceremony Hickam AFB
Carole and Jim Hickerson at arrival ceremony for U.S. military personnel at Hickam AFB December 9, 2011

It is important to this pair to pay their respects to those who gave all for their country and they attend as many Arrival Ceremonies as their schedule permits. The remains of Carole Hickerson’s husband, a Marine pilot, came through Hickam in this manner in 2002. His body was escorted home, in full dress uniform and buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

During the years her husband was missing in action, Carole was frustrated by the lack of transparency from the U.S. government. There was no communication on the progress in finding and returning those service personnel who were unaccounted for during the war. While her husband was missing, she designed the image which later became the well known graphic on the black POW/MIA flag. She is quick to note she is not responsible for creating the flag itself.

Around 1970, my Godmother, Joyce Mary Moses, gave me a silver POW/MIA bracket inscribed with a soldier’s name and the date he went missing in action.

“Lt. Roger B. Innes, MIA 12-27-67″

Carole Hickerson was instrumental in developing the POW/MIA bracelet program to build awareness and public support for the return of our soldiers. I wore this bracelet for many years until the metal fatigued. In March of this year, I visited the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall in Washington D.C and found the name Lt. Roger B. Innes etched on one of the panels.

Roger B. Innes , a solder killed in action, on Vietnam Memorial Wall Washington DC
The name, Roger B. Innes, a solder killed in action during the Vietnam War, on Vietnam Memorial Wall Washington DC

Carole and her current husband Jim met through National League of Families of America’s Prisoners of War and Missing in Action in Southeast Asia.

Jim Hickerson, a U.S. Navy Captain, was a prisoner of war in Hanoi after his aircraft was shot down over Vietnam. He spent five years in the notorious Hanoi Hilton. Carole stated while Jim was a prisoner of war, his then wife “decided not to wait for him.”

Now retired from the Navy, Jim is active with the privately funded Pacific Aviation Museum on Pearl Harbor’s Ford Island. He enjoys military history and all the back stories that make the past come to life. Jim shared this story with us:

“A girl was buried on the U.S.S. Utah which sank on December 7, 1941 during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. One of the twin daughters of the ship’s captain had died and the captain brought her remains aboard prior to the attack. The ship was prepared to sail the next day and the grieving father planned to bury his daughter at sea. The ship never sailed out of port. It was one of the many ships bombed and sunk just after dawn that day. The captain and his daughter’s body were forever entombed in the wreckage. Jim says this back story came out when the surviving twin visited Ford Island later in her life.”

Carole and Jim are celebrating 37 years of marriage. Congratulations to you both!

Published by April M. Williams

Traveler | Yogi | Foodie | Travel Blog Writer | Adventurer. Connect with me on Google. Email April.

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5 Comments

  1. I am proud to say that I was a lucky teenager that wore Cmdr James Hickerson’s POW bracelet for many years. Its wonderful to read about his amazing and selfless acts.
    Thank you!
    Molly

    1. Molly, Thank you for sharing your story about your POW bracelet. Do you still have yours? Cmdr. James Hickerson is a very brave man who is still doing selfless acts things for fellow military.

      April M. Williams

      1. Hello April:
        I have moved several times since then and it had broken in half since I wore it daily and thought of him often. I remembered his name all these years and have always been so happy to know he made it home finally. I do travel to Honolulu from time to time for work and I didn’t realize he was living in Hawaii. He sounds like such a wonderful and brave man.
        I am so honored, humbled and lucky to have had his name on my bracelet so many years ago.
        I also think of all the others who unfortunately were not so lucky.
        A friend of mine still wears hers for the poor man that didn’t make it home.
        Thank you for posting Cmdr Hickerson’s activities. It was so wonderful to find this information when I did my internet search!
        Thank you,
        Molly Forman

  2. capt. hickerson–a friend has a pow braclet your name on it. #98 12-22-67. he would like to get it to you. send me info. seshorey@sbcglobal.net
    stan e shorey ams-2 usn 1968-79
    vietnam veterans ch933 fresno ca.
    patriot guard rider.
    thanks stan welcome home

    1. Stan,

      Thank you for your service.

      So nice to get this note about Captain Jim Hickerson’s POW MIA bracelet. Your message forwarded and I hope you can connect with Jim. What a long time to keep this POW MIA reminder. Many people still have their POW MIA bracelets so they continue to be effective tools for raising awareness.

      April M. Williams

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