PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – Call it fate, chance or even a divine appointment. A woman just happened to come across the name of the man whose POW bracelet she wore 40 years ago.
When the two got the chance to meet, she called it an answer to prayer.
Jerry Singleton didn’t know when he bought his red Jeep with manual transmission, it would take him back in time to the years when he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
Nor did he know that his new Jeep would become the vehicle that would bring him to Karen Judd, who had never met him but felt connected to him by the POW bracelet she had worn with his name on it when she was in junior high school.
“I bathed in it, slept in it. It was always on,” Judd said.
Jerry Singleton’s name showed up in a file one ordinary day in June at the Huffines car dealership where she works.
“What a coincidence. I just couldn’t believe it,” Karen said.
She checked the age on the key pad sitting on her desk.
“It would be about the right age, with the same name. And, just to see the POW plate, I just said, ‘It’s him. It’s gotta be him!” she said with a smile.
It was him. Karen met him the very next day.
“I didn’t hardly sleep the the night before, ’cause I was excited,” she said. “To actually physically meet the person that you had prayed for so, so hard.”
What were the chances?
Jerry lived in Colorado when he joined the Air Force. Karen, who was just 14 at the time, lived in Dallas. Jerry eventually moved to Burleson. They finally met in Plano 40 years later.
“I was delighted to meet her personally just to Say, ‘Thank you,'” he said.
More than a thousand others have returned their POW bracelets directly to his address. He remains thankful for each one he receives.
“I get tears in my eyes. I get a lump in my throat. And, I thank the Lord again,” he said.
Some attach a sentimental note.
“At long last, your bracelet will be where it belongs. I’ve kept it far too long,” he read, beginning to choke up.
Jerry Singleton was a 25-year-old helicopter pilot on a rescue mission just south of Hanoi when the enemy took down his helicopter.
“It caught fire instantly. So that all through the cargo area there was just massive flames,” he said.
The crew bailed out with parachutes. Jerry landed in a tree. He had third degree burns on his wrists and leg, places where his fire resistant suit didn’t cover his skin.
He had only been in Vietnam a month. He would spend the next seven years, three months and a day in Viet Cong captivity at the infamous Hoa Lo Prison, the one POW’s called ‘The Hanoi Hilton.’
“As one of the guys said, ‘When you went there, you could hear the screams of past years of torture,'” Jerry said.
But Jerry said the torture eased once the Vietnamese found out about the bracelets and the growing American support for the POW’s.
“God answered their prayers on my behalf,” Jerry said.
“It was just my way of saying, ‘Okay, I can make a difference,” Karen said.
It can be said that you may never see an answer to prayer in your lifetime. And then again, you just never know when it’s going to show up.
Jerry Singleton became a Military Chaplin after his release from his Hanoi prison cell. He’s 72 now and retired but still speaks to groups about his POW experience.
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