It was July 1970 when the Viet Nam War was raging, and as a high schooler in South Portland, I found that our local VFW hall was selling “POW bracelets” for $3.

These bracelets were sold with the name of a soldier who was missing in action or lost in combat. The pledge was to wear the bracelet until the soldier either came home or was officially declared dead or missing. I bought one, put it on my right wrist and it remains there after 48½ years – except for the month it spent at the bottom of Moosehead Lake in 2016.

My wife and I decided to take a ride to Moosehead on Memorial Day weekend 2016. We were in pursuit of another State Park Passport stamp at Mount Kineo, but the normal boat shuttle was not operating yet. We sat at the dock in Rockwood and I waved down a boat with three college guys in it and asked if they could take me over to the island to get the passport stamp while my wife stayed at the dock. I would be back in half an hour.

As we cruised across the lake, I chatted with the guys and found that they worked at the Kineo Golf Course. We approached the extended dock, which was about 90 feet from the shore, connected to a long gangway. I stood to step onto the dock and did not realize that the rear seat that I stepped onto was a swivel seat. As I disembarked, it swiveled and I fell half onto the edge of the dock and the edge of the boat. My wrist caught the edge of the dock and the bracelet popped off my wrist and sank into the blackness of the lake.

Suddenly, I was stunned … I realized that something that was part of me for 45 years was now gone. How deep did it go? Was it lost forever? I explained to the guys what had happened, and they could detect that this was serious. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t leave with part of me at the bottom of the lake.

I got the State Park stamp, but I couldn’t simply leave. I had no real options, though, so they took me back to my wife at the Rockwood dock. I was quite emotional, and my wife could see that something was not right. I explained the incident, and we drove around Greenville, not wanting to leave because part of me was missing in the lake.

But we headed home, and I felt numb. I had to get it back, but how would that ever happen? I only knew that one of the college guys was Dan.

Eventually I found the name of Elwood Doran, who manages the course, and I explained my dilemma. He said he knew the college guys and he might be able to help me because he occasionally dives off the shore to retrieve lost golf balls. Suddenly I had a glimmer of hope, though the lake was still cold and dark. He said he might give it a try. Yeh … right … why would he do this?

We emailed a couple times in early June, but the water was still too cold. Then, on June 25, an email from Mr. Doran showed up – and it was a picture of my bracelet, shining in the sun on his deck railing. What!?

He had waited for a sunny day and dove with no tank in 18 feet of water. After 20 minutes, he caught a glimmer of light between some softball-sized slimy rocks. He found it! In his immediate email to me, he said, “All in all, a nice way to end the day: washed off the Kineo road dust, got refreshed by the clean Moosehead water and helped reunite someone with a treasured possession. Every day should end so well.

He then sent it by overnight mail to me. Mr. Doran … my indescribable hero.

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