Mike Brazelton

SMALL WORLD… as shared by Jim Kurtz (’65)

The paths of 2 MHS grads crossed unknowingly in Oklahoma one spring day in 1972. Jim Kurtz (‘65) was just back from flying Army helicopters in Vietnam and was attending training at Ft. Sill. One day after the weather started to warm he came across a table set up outdoors in front of the PX where some women were selling POW bracelets. Jim knew about the bracelets, which had become popular while he was overseas, but this was his first opportunity to get one.

Jim Kurtz ('65) - click for larger image

He hoped to find a bracelet bearing the name of Larry Lilly or Curtis Smoot, 2 men his unit had lost in Cambodia, both officially Missing in Action. After rummaging through the piles of bracelets on the table, he asked 1 of the women selling them if it was possible to find a particular name. She said the MIAs and POWs numbered in the hundreds and that she had no way of knowing what names they’d brought with them.

Jim decided he’d have to settle for any name, so he grabbed a handful to see if he could at least find one from the Army. All he grabbed were Air Force or Navy. One bore the name of Capt. Michael Brazelton, US Air Force. That last name was familiar because there had been a cheerleader at Morningside by that name – Sue Brazelton (‘63). (There was also sister Judy Brazelton (‘62)).  That seemed as good a reason as any to pick a bracelet, so that was the one Jim chose, and that he wore until the POWs came home. Soon after putting it on, however, he learned from his sister Mary Lou (‘63) that the name was far more than a coincidence, that Capt. Michael Brazelton was in fact the older brother of MHS cheerleader Sue.

When Mike Brazelton came home in March 1973 Jim was stationed in Germany. He took off the bracelet, thinking some day to give it to Mike, but in the many household moves Jim and his family made before retiring from the Army in ‘98, the bracelet itself went MIA.

Fast-forward now to March 2009, when the mailman delivered to Jim’s home in Fairfax, VA, a new issue of “Air&Space Smithsonian” magazine. Inside was an article about the F-105 Thunderchief, the kind of airplane Mike Brazelton was in when he was shot down north of Hanoi in Aug. ‘66. The article contained the story of Mike’s shoot-down, along with a picture of him in front of his airplane.  (click for larger image)

Jim Kurtz shared news of the article, and the story about his Brazelton bracelet, with Steve Love (’65) and some other high school friends, and soon received the following email from Rick and Karen (Anderson) Ganulin (both ’63 grads):

Mike Brazelton is indeed Sue's older brother. Mike was a friend and classmate of my brother Pete. He was destined to be a fighter pilot. He was an Eagle Scout. He graduated from MHS in 1961. Mike attended our 40th reunion with Sue. He was wearing a metal POW bracelet. I told him how my mother wore a bracelet while he was a prisoner. He asked me if I wanted a bracelet and after saying yes, he took his off his wrist and gave it to me. It is sitting next to me on our desk.

You can read the story about Mike Brazelton at: