Army soldier wears POW bracelet for decades; passes it on to Ten - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Army soldier wears POW bracelet for decades; passes it on to Tennessee family

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Army Specialist Marvin Foster Phillips disappeared off the coast of South Vietnam in September, 1966. The 20-year-old soldier died when his helicopter was gunned down.

Nearly a half-century later his remains returned to Grundy County where Phillips was laid to rest with full Military Honors.

As the family waited for any kind of news while Phillips was missing another soldier, whom they never met, carried a piece of Phillips with him for nearly 30 years.

"In the early 80's there was the push for POW/MIA accountability," Army Colonel David Davidson says.

Davidson is the commander of the 316th Calvary Brigade at Fort Benning, GA. In 1986 he made a decision to wear a memory bracelet in honor of a soldier lost in war.

"Something that I wanted to do, to take one of these bracelets and carry that until that soldier was accounted for," says Davidson. "I remember looking at the table and there were unfortunately a lot of bracelets on the table."

Davidson scanned the names of the missing soldiers, looking for anything that would draw him in to a specific name. Phillips' immediately stood out.

"Specialist Phillips was actually killed the same month I was born," explains Davidson.

Davidson, who's also a Tennessee native, spent the next 28 years serving his country. He's traveled to Germany, Hawaii , the United Kingdom and three combat tours overseas. "This bracelet has gone to all of those places," Davidson says.

Specialist Phillips was gone but never forgotten. "Part of the Army values, part of the Army creed is not to leave behind a fallen comrade," says Davidson.

About a month ago, while sharing the story of Phillips' memory bracelet with his sons, Davidson did a little research. "We came across the story of the family and the funeral and the celebration of bringing him home," he says.

He knew Phillips' bracelet belonged in Tennessee with the Phillips family.

"To know that somebody else out there cared and that we are truly, when we say, 'don't leave a fallen comrade' that it means something," says Davidson.

They never met before but the Phillips greeted Davidson with open arms. He met Phillips' surviving siblings and presented them their brother's bracelet.

"We make sure everybody comes home. In some small way I've been praying with you this whole time for him to come home and he made it and I just want you to know that somebody else was out there with you," Davidson told the family.

From a soldier's wrist to a family member, while small, the bracelet is an item that will be cherished forever.

"He wore it for me," Phillips' youngest brother, Kirk, says with tears in his eyes. "I'll wear it till I die."

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