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The Bracelet

- an article written by THOMAS RYLL, Columbian staff writer

Sunday, July 25, 2004
By THOMAS RYLL, Columbian staff writer

2004 The Columbian Publishing Co.

Early on the morning of Sept. 16, 1944, a B-17 bomber left an airfield in Iceland, climbing into zero-visibility conditions in an attempt to escape the grip of notoriously vicious weather and unforgiving terrain.

The bomber was not alone; that morning more than 100 Flying Fortresses left Meeks Field at Keflavik en route to join thousands of others that had been ferried from the United States to the flak-filled skies over Europe at the height of World War II.

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Ten crewmen were aboard the B-17 as it lumbered into the gray skies, fighting winds and subfreezing temperatures that coated the plane's wings with ice. Like the bomber, the crewmen, hailing from New Hampshire to Oregon and everywhere between, were factory-fresh and inexperienced, newly churned out of military flight schools to do battle against Hitler's war machine.

But that day, for that bomber and its 10 occupants, the only war that was waged was against Iceland's murderous weather. It won.

In May, an oversized envelope arrived at the Royal Oaks Country Club home of retired attorney Steven Memovich and his wife, Marilyn. In impeccable English, a neatly written letter from a 33-year-old Reykjavik, Iceland, store cashier announced the contents of the package.

Safely enclosed in a jewelry case was a man's battered silver bracelet. Its heavy chain had been ripped from one end of the nameplate. One side of the curved plate bore the name Steven A. Memovich. On the reverse, the engraving read 19201331, and "Always Yours, Marilyn." The serial number belonged to a young Army Air Forces 2nd lieutenant; the sentiment was that of his teenaged future wife.

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