A silver Missing In Action bracelet found its way to the mother of a Vietnam veteran recently.

It was through the tenacity of another veteran that Laverne Ransbottom was united with her son Fredrick Ransbottom’s memory yet one more time.

The bracelet with Capt. Fredrick Ransbottom stamped on it had been worn on the arm of Mary Milley for 39 years prior to her recent death. During the Vietnam conflict, it was common for Americans to wear silver bracelets stamped with the names of those missing in action.

“Mary never knew that Fredrick’s artifacts had been found, sent home and buried with full military honors,” said Peter Gauthier, himself a Vietnam veteran who lives in Northbridge, Maine.  

Gauthier had come in possession of the bracelet when Mary’s daughter Catherine brought it to the local American Legion post.

Gauthier, a member on the executive board of the local Dudley Gendron American Legion Post 414 for the past 13 years, placed the bracelet on his arm while he tried to find any information he could about the soldier.  

Gauthier located Laverne Ransbottom, Maj. Fredrick Ransbottom’s mother, through The Edmond Sun after reading one of a series of stories about her son that published starting August 2006 about his remains being brought back to the United States.

Capt. Fredrick Joel Ransbottom had been promoted to major while he was reported MIA.

“I told her about the MIA bracelet that had been worn for the past 39 years by Mary M. Milley, a woman in Sutton, Maine,” Gauthier said. “She passed away Dec. 12, 2011.”

Milley’s daughter Catherine gave the bracelet to a Legion member who brought it to an American Legion Post meeting where Gauthier took over responsibility for the bracelet.

“Laverne was very moved and thanked me for doing some research on finding her. She told me about her husband passing away and not knowing what had happened to their son Fredrick.

“She also said that God connects people together in many different ways and that she believes that is how I found her — through God’s intervention.

“It was His plan,” Laverne Ransbottom said recently. “I have experienced so many miracles over the past five years regarding Freddy Joel.”

From the family’s now retired Air Force connection to the casualty officer who helped the family reach the right people and look into classified records, to the priority dig that had logistics to be worked out and money appropriated for, to the lead anthropologist who would not give up hope of finding her son, to the ordinance group at the site who found a medicine bottle and kept digging, Ransbottom said it was one miracle after another leading to the area where her son’s billfold, class ring and dog tags were found in Vietnam.

Ransbottom had been missing in action, his fate unknown, since 1968. His remains and artifacts were found in 2006 at a military outpost near Kham Duc, Vietnam.

The final step home for the young soldier was a funeral with full military honors at Edmond’s Henderson Hills Baptist Church and interment at Memorial Park Cemetery in January 2007.

Laverne said she received a phone call in early January from Peter Gauthier telling her he was wearing the bracelet with her son’s name stamped on it.

“He asked if I would like him to send it back to me and I said, ‘Yes.’”  

“Mary was my mother’s name,” Laverne Ransbottom said. “I can picture Mary Milley being devoted to this man she didn’t know and would never meet.

“Her children also bonded with Fred. This is such a great story that her daughter Catherine wanted to find out about my son, the man her mother took time out every day to remember and say a prayer for.”

Ransbottom said she thanked Gauthier for his service and sacrifice to our country.

“She told me that I will never know how ‘special’ this call and the information that I shared with her was,” Gauthier said.

“It was a great call and tears were flowing down my checks when we hung up. Everyone that I share this story with comments on how special this story is, and some have a tear in their eye as I tell it.”

pmiller@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 171

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