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East Bay Woman Keeps 38-Year Promise

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Kathy Strong of Walnut Creek has worn a bracelet with the name of missing Vietnam War soldier James Moreland since Christmas Day 1972. (CBS)

Kathy Strong of Walnut Creek has worn a bracelet with the name of missing Vietnam War soldier James Moreland since Christmas Day 1972. (CBS)

WALNUT CREEK (CBS 5) — When she was 12, Kathy Strong put on a bracelet bearing the name of a missing Vietnam War soldier. She promised she would not take it off until he came home.

Nearly four decades later, she has kept that promise.

Strong received her bracelet on Christmas Day 1972, engraved with the name of James Moreland.

“I’m just determined once I make a promise,” Strong said, laughing. “Just try to stick with it.”

Moreland was a 22-year-old Green Beret and a former football star. On February 7, 1968, an enemy tank gravely wounded Moreland in the jungles of Lang Vei. The next day, his fellow soldiers escaped, but were unable to take Moreland.

Strong would go on to wear the bracelet around the world, with the pictures to prove it. Last week, she received a call she had been waiting for nearly four decades.

“They just called and said, ‘You won’t believe it, you won’t believe the news. He’s been found. His remains have been found. He’s finally coming home.’ It’s an answer to prayer,” Strong said.

In May, Strong will travel back to Moreland’s hometown in Alabama, finally take off the bracelet and bury it with his remains. Over the years, Strong has collected mementos, appeared in the local newspaper and has grown close to the family of a man she has never met.

“You can’t pray for someone everyday, and think about him everyday. Of course I love him, and I’ve been waiting for him to come home,” Strong said.

Strong said never forgetting was the least she could do.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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