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Brea Centennial Throwback: POW/MIA Captain Stephen Hanson

8 months ago by in ( BBON , News , Old/New , Uncategorized , Welcome to Brea )
Actor Patrick Wayne, at lecturn, was master of ceremonies in 1971 for a ceremony at Brea Olinda High School recognizing Vietnam War pilot Steve Hanson, who was missing in action. James Cameron, a Brea resident at the time, painted a POW in a cage for the event.

Actor Patrick Wayne, at lecturn, was master of ceremonies in 1971 for a ceremony at Brea Olinda High School recognizing Vietnam War pilot Steve Hanson, who was missing in action. James Cameron, a Brea resident at the time, painted a POW in a cage for the event. Courtesy of Susan Gaede

Did you wear a POW-MIA bracelet in the ’70s?

    BREA

      I continue my honoring of Brea’s centennial with another look back in the history files. How many people remember wearing a POW-MIA bracelet with the name of Steve Hanson engraved on it? In April 1971, the city adopted Capt. Stephen Hanson, a Marine pilot who had been missing in action in the Southeast Asia for nearly four years.

        Steve was thought to be a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He had been shot down while piloting a helicopter on a rescue mission over Laos on June 1, 1967.

          Many local people wore Steve Hanson POW bracelets. John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, Cher and many other celebrities also wore his bracelet.

            The high school held a dedication for Steve and all the television channels covered the event.

              Patrick Wayne was the keynote speaker.

                Future movie director James Cameron, a Brea resident at the time, painted a picture of a POW in a bamboo cage to display on the podium during the ceremony.

                  Later, the high school conducted a swim-a-thon raising thousands of dollars for a college fund for Steve’s son, Todd. Many Brea residents and seven high schools participated in a walk-a-thon to Knott’s Berry Farm (10.3 miles) organized by Brea Olinda High School students to raise money for a national mailing campaign to North Vietnamese officials.

                    Steve’s wife, Carole Hanson, was grand marshal of the Brea Bonanza Day Parade. The theme was “Let’s Not Forget America.”

                      Steve was later declared killed in action and the bracelets were gathered from all over the United States, melted down by Brea Olinda students and made into wings, which were placed on a commemorative plaque and hung in the high school office.

                        Carole later married a former POW, Jim Hickerson, and they adopted a Korean girl. I am sure many of you remember Todd, who accompanied Carole at all Brea events. He was then 5 years old. He has a family of his own now. Jim and Carole are living in Hawaii and are very happy.

                          Carole is writing a book and Brea will very much be included in it.

                            Susan Gaede has cast her eye on local news for more than 40 years: 714-529-8561 or suzgaede@aol.com.
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"Thank you" for visiting Beautiful Brea Old & New (BBON). First & foremost, I am a proud mother & wife. I am also a well-rounded independent contractor. But you can call me an enthusiastic cheerleader, supporting wholeheartedly the City of Brea --a charming town with character & innovation, turning 100 years old in 2017!

  • Carolyn Campbell

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