I was recently notified through a member of his family that Colonel Louis F. Makowski passed on September 8. I was deeply saddened to hear this, even though I had never met the man.
Who was Colonel Makowski? He was an air force navigator who served our country during the Vietnam War. His plane was shot down, and he was taken as a Prisoner of War on October 6, 1966, spending 2,342 days in captivity then released on March 4, 1973. As an adolescent, I bought a metal POW bracelet inscribed with his name. I wore it every day in support of him and prayed for his safe return. I was deeply opposed to the Vietnam War, watching the horrors unfold on the news along with the accounts of so many young men killed in action. I was afraid my brother would be called up in the draft. It seemed like a death sentence to these young boys, really, who were shipped off to fight such an atrocious war. It was a time of unrest, turmoil, and deep divide in our country. Considering present day, we really haven’t come very far as a country where peace and unity are concerned.
After I wrote about this on my blog and in a local newspaper, I did some investigation and was able to contact Colonel Makowski. He was now retired and enjoying life with his wife and family. We wrote and emailed back and forth a few times, and I was able to express my thanks as an American citizen for his bravery and his service. I was so thrilled to have made that connection with the unknown soldier whose inscription I wore on a bracelet on my wrist for so many years. I received emails from others across the country who also wore his bracelet and who were happy to hear of his whereabouts. I can’t help to think that in his captivity and isolation in the Vietnam prison camp, he really had no idea of the many people who were supporting and praying for his safe return. He was never alone.
I lost touch with Colonel Makowski after that, although every now and again he crossed my mind. Last week I was emotionally touched that two of his family members contacted me to first say he was battling Covid and then he had succumbed to the virus. It was maddening to think that after all he went through in his life and all that he had survived, that in the end, he would suffer with this horrible virus that would take him. He was 90 years old.
I pray for his family in their sorrow and for all the families who have lost loved ones in military service and Covid. There just doesn’t seem enough prayers in the world you could say to honor these heroes.
In closing I would like to leave you with words that Colonel Makowski expressed to me in our last contact. He said, among other things, that he still had high hope for the future and our country’s winning back our God-given American values. The lesson he has taught me through this experience with him is no matter what your circumstances and how hard and challenging life can get, be strong, be brave and be hopeful. You can survive the trials you go through and go on to live a happy life.
Obituary of Colonel Louis Frank Makowski: