John Jakovac

On November 11, 1972, I bought a POW/MIA bracelet from one of my students at Ann Arbor’s Community High School and put it on my right wrist. It’s been there ever since.

The bracelet reads “S/SGT. JOHN JAKOVAC, 5-29-67,” and honors an American soldier reported missing in action during the Vietnam Conflict. For many years, I chose not to investigate John’s background — although, thanks to the internet, it seemed clear that there'd be information about him available, if I wanted it. To me, though, he symbolized the 2500 American servicemen lost during the horror that was Vietnam, and I chose not to focus in too closely on the specifics of his individual case.

In the 1980s, I used the bracelet — and John's name — as a clue in one of my Mahboob Chaudri stories, “The Ivory Beast,” and someone from John’s old Army unit found the story, which I’d posted elsewhere on this website, and contacted me, sending me the picture which appears at the upper left on this page. Later, he sent me a link to a high-school project by Allison Johnston, whose father also wears John’s MIA bracelet. It’s a very touching look at the life and final mission and tragic death of this young man whose name I have carried with me for more than half of my life. (The photo of John’s grave comes from Allison’s project.)

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