BELTON — When Sharon Sifferd discovered a stainless steel MIA/POW bracelet in a box of jewelry she was sorting through for the Scott & White Hospice Thrift Store, she knew it needed to be returned to the soldier’s family.
“SSG Larry G. Kier USA 06 May 70 SVN” was etched into the metal.
Sifferd often picks up jewelry donated to the thrift store in Belton and rummages through it to determine prices.
The thrift store receives boxes of donated items constantly, many coming in from families who have cleaned out a family member’s home after a death.
“We don’t do an inventory, so there was no way to contact the person who brought the item in,” she said.
Susan Robison, thrift store manager, said being a good steward of other people’s property is an important part of the job.
Sifferd, who has genealogy experience, volunteers at the Killeen Family History Center at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so she went to work trying to find Kier’s family.
She uncovered information about Kier’s death in Vietnam and his burial more than 30 years later. She also found information on his brother, Vern Kier, now living in Kentucky.
Pfc. Larry Kier was killed in May 1970 while defending an artillery fire support base in South Vietnam.
Several men died in the battle, but Kier’s body was not recovered, according to the POW Network.
In 1991, a Vietnam resident handed over a partially melted identification card and some bone fragments to U.S. officials.
In 2000, using DNA samples from the Kier family, the Army made a positive identification. Larry Kier was buried in Owingsville, Ky., in March 2002.
Began making calls
Robison sent emails to all the addresses Sifferd found and started making calls. The first number was disconnected.
When one of the calls went through, she left a message about finding the bracelet.
“I read what was etched on the bracelet and said, ‘If this is your family, would you please call me back, because I would like to return this to the appropriate person and I’m making every effort to get this back to the family,’” she said.
Vern Kier returned her call Tuesday morning.
“I told him someone in Belton must have worn the bracelet and I didn’t know why it was at the thrift store, but it was about rescuing it and getting it back to where it belonged,” Robison said.
The MIA/POW bracelet project began in the early 1970s to draw attention to the men serving in the armed forces during the Vietnam War who were missing in action or prisoners of war.
The first bracelets were made of brass and copper and cost $2.50 to $3. By the time the project ended, about 5 million bracelets had been distributed.
Robison mailed the MIA/POW bracelet Tuesday.
“It’s supposed to get to Kentucky on Friday,” she said.