Remembering Major Bradley Gene Cuthbert

Captain Bradley Gene Cuthbert (Photo by Elizabeth Harper)

It can be frustrating when you spend several hours searching for someone online and can’t find them. We’re all so used to easy access to information, but what if you spent your whole life searching and wondering.

Major Bradley Gene Cuthbert went missing on November 23 1968 during a flight over North Vietnam. It was his 28th birthday.

When agreements were reached and the POWs came home, Major Cuthbert was not with the survivors. According to information I found online, it seems he was declared dead based on two teeth, a dog-tag, and differing tales from witnesses some as old as 21 years after his plane was shot down.

Two teeth were repatriated and his military file was closed.

His daughter, Shannon Cuthbert Sassen believes he may still be alive somewhere.

I’d like to think we wouldn’t leave a solider behind and that all efforts to find him were exhausted, but 45 years is a long time and it seems unlikely that her father will be returned to her now.

After reading his story and her comment with it, I tried to find her online to give her a copy of the image above. I took the photo of the POW bracelet with her father’s name on it during a trip to Washington D.C. when John and I visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The long dark wall is a powerful memorial to loss and suffering and like many memorials, people sometimes leave mementos behind. Placed along the wall are personal touchstones left by people connected to someone whose name is etched on the reflective wall of war dead.

A lasting memory from my childhood, the POW bracelet caught my eye placed as it was in front of the wall next to an American flag.

I tried to find Major Cuthbert’s daughter through a variety of search routes before giving up. I hope this post finds its way to her so she will know that her father is not forgotten and that I too, will be thinking of him today.

I’ve written more than a few words about Memorial Day over the last few years and you may be interested in those stories as well.

19 thoughts on “Remembering Major Bradley Gene Cuthbert

  1. I can’t even remember the name that was on my POW bracelet. That’s because he was one of the lucky ones. I sent the bracelet to them after I saw him return. I remember crying when they showed man after man returning. I was so happy to see his face. I go to visit my husband every year at the Leavenworth National Cemetary. what a beautiful place. I go alone or with my granddaughter. I see large families singing and praying around their fallen ones.

  2. Beautiful photograph and a touching story.
    I also remember the days of the POW bracelets and the draft being read on the television, as a young girl. God bless all the men and women of our military and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

  3. Is this the bracelet that you actually wore? It IS the name on the bracelet that I wear every single day, and have worn since 1973. Very curious.

    • Maria, this was not my bracelet. It was one that had been left at the memorial and I stopped to photograph it. While researching POW bracelets before writing this post, I did find that several people seemed have had this name leading me to believe that multiple copies must have exsisted for each POW.

  4. Hello everyone and particularly Elizabeth!
    I am Shannon Cuthbert Sassen and this beautiful tribute was found by someone in my hometown and forwarded to both my brother and I by our cousin who still lives there.

    Thank you, Elizabeth, for such a magnificent and moving piece! You truly have a gift for composition.

    Our family does truly believe that my father is no longer among the living and probably hasn’t been for a very long time. We remain adamant, however, that a full accounting of his incident is still feasible and is, in fact, owed to him. Repatriated remains consisting of just two teeth certainly does not constitute a full accounting of what happened to that human being. Bradley Gene Cuthbert was a wonderful man and a magnificent father to my brother and me. Our mother still considers him to have been the love of her life. He was very handsome and extremely charismatic, naturally extroverted and dynamic. I still miss him every day and feel as though our government dishonored him through the bewildering act of abandoning him and closing his MIA status to KIA with no further investigation into how/where/when/why he may have been killed. I know he is far from the only person treated in such a shabby manner, all in the interests of re-establishing diplomatic ties with Vietnam so our government could reap the economic and financial benefits.

    The photo you took is profound and moving. It definitely brought tears to my eyes. I have been contacted by a few other individuals who wore his POW bracelet for many years, so yes, multiple bracelets were always made and issued for each person. We all wore them as well, although the ones worn by my brother and I were child-sized and designed especially for us.

    To this day, we still have no knowledge of what happened to him. His co-pilot was a POW who was released and came home as part of Operation Homecoming in 1973, which was absolutely wonderful! He ultimately retired a very well-decorated Lt. Colonel. He also, however, does not know what ultimately became of my father and that uncertainty continues to bother him intensely.

    Thank you again, Elizabeth!

    • I to have a bracelet.I just found it in a box.Bradley Cuthbert 11-23-68.I will never forget that time, because my cousin died and that was the first death I always remember, he was 20 I was 14 years old.. Edward Zackowski..if you would the bracelet I can send it to you if not I will keep it always.Barbara

  5. Elizabeth you are right. Multiple people had bracelets with the same name. I would like a copy of the picture, too, if you would send me one. Thanks for remembering. Bradley (Curt) Cuthbert (Jr.)

  6. I have his bracelet as well and just talked about him on my FaceBook page today because today is National POW/MIA Recognition Day. I contacted Shannon many years ago as well and told her that I still had the bracelet and was praying for her family and for her Dad. My Dad served three tours in Viet Nam and God brought him back to us each time. I can’t imagine how it must feel to know that your Dad is a POW/MIA. God Bless the Cuthbert family.

  7. I have his bracelet as well although it broke in half from wear. I will never forget his name or his service. God Bless.

  8. In 1972 I visited Buffalo NY from my home in Scotland. Being vehemently against the Vietnam War I was very happy and proud to become the owner of a bracelet bearing Bradley Cuthbert’s name, a name which has been firmly lodged in my head since that day. Now 41 years later I’m in my home in S.W. France, my twin sons have just arrived for Christmas from Prague and one has asked if I still have the bracelet. It’s right there in my bedside cabinet and now very proudly owned by my son who is thrilled to have it. I would like to think that he will carry on the remembrance of this man whose name has transcended the decades and am sure he will.

  9. I also have a bracelet with his name. I tried multiple times to contact family members without success. Before I retired from teaching, I took the bracelet into my class each year and shared the story with my fifth graders so they would understand what others have done for hem and this country.

  10. In 1971-72 I was in 8th grade and I sent away for a POW bracelet. I wore it ALL the time. The name … Capt Bradley Cuthbert!
    Apparently before he became a Major. Five years later, a young lady was envious of the bracelet, asked to see it and somehow it ended up broken in half … I cried! I NEVER forgot him, I visited the WALL, found his name and promotion to Major. I’m now quite a but older but have never forgotten that he was the POW on the bracelet that I received, nor have I ever stopped “feeling” for his family.
    How interesting to see his name on another POW bracelet in this picture as it was not mine.
    Thank you, Major Bradley Cuthbert for giving the ultimate sacrifice, your life for our freedom. May God be with your family and you dear Sir, if you are still alive somewhere … ~Sue Ann Bacher, Maryland

  11. I still remember him and how nice and a down to earth human being that you would ever want to meet. Our families were friends in England at the time and my sister babysat his children. They lived around the corner and I will always hold a special place in my heart for Brad, Connie, Shannon and Brad Jr. He was the first of many that I personally knew that was a casualty of this war. I prayed over the years for his return or some news that would give closure to his family. I can’t imagine living life always wondering. My heart and soul goes out to them and I will keep praying till they can find the answer . My family never ever forgot.

    • Hi Pat! This is Shannon (Cuthbert) Sassen. I feel very fortunate to enjoy very vivid memories of my father and of our life in England. I was three years old when we left England because my father was re-assigned to the Vietnam conflict, based in Udorn Thailand. I do happen to recall our great friends in England – I even remember you! Thank you for posting to this site and for your special words about my parents.

      Thank you again and many blessings to you!

  12. Pat nee Williams Korrte) I met your sister, around 1994 or so, in England. By chance I was working in Moscow, Russia, and a consultant at HJ Heinz Co. was friends with your sister. I visited him in England and met your sister at his house! He remembered my family’s story, shared it with someone back home, since he lived nearby, and in the quirky ways of the world, met your sister. She was gracious enough not to hold it against me that I didn’t remember my nanny from when I was 1! Thanks for your kind comments about my father, and for wearing his bracelet and for remembering him all these years. Brad Cuthbert (Jr.). Maple Grove, MN.

  13. I have a bracelet w/ Capt. Bradley Cuthbert on it I have wanted to find the family and see if they wanted it. I have had it since may dad came back from in country (Vietnam). I cherished this bracelet so much me & my wife put it in our curio cabinet w/ other items from our family we cherish. My wife’s brother was injured in Vietnam. Please contact us if you want the bracelet. I would give it to the Cuthbert family. It would be a very emotional thing for me & my family because we looked @ it everyday & often wondered about the Cuthbert’s & what had happened to their brave father. I am running on but I finally broke down & did this research. you can be reached me on my wife’s email @ janetjordan55@yahoo.com. I thank you for your time.

  14. I proudly wore my bracelet with the name
    Capt. Bradley Cuthbert on it for years.❤ it made me cry most days to look at it knowing that someone’s loved one was missing. I always prayed for him and wore it long after the POWs were released. The name is etched in my mind for life.
    Can never say thank you enough for those who serve our country .

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