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Marty Halyburton waited in Atlanta for her husband Porter, a Navy Lieut. Commander who has been a prisoner since 1965. She was flooded with mail as were other P.O.W. wivesfrom people wearing Halyburton's P.O.W. bracelet in a program started in the summer of 1970 by VIVA (Voices In Vital America). "When he left," she said, "I was just a 23-year-old bride, and I followed Porter everywhere." In the past seven years, she has learned to manage for herselfmoving three times, buying and selling two cars, raising their daughter Dabney. At week's end, Marty learned that her husband was also among the first group released. She was waiting to tell him, among other things, about the strange looks she was getting at a Baptist-nursery-school parents' meeting. Finally, one mother demanded to know why her husband was in jail. Dabney, it turned out, had told her little classmates that her father was a "prisoner."
In Wellfleet, Mass., Carol North and her four daughters prepared for the homecoming of the man they had not seen for 6½ years. For three years after Air Force Lieut. Colonel Kenneth North was shot down, the family did not even know he was alive.
Amy, now eleven, remembers about her father only that "he's got blue eyes and used to tickle me." Says Carol North: "There's no use kidding ourselves, I'm sure Ken has changed. I can see from his letters that he has grown more introspective." She also worries that the enormous changes in her daughters may be difficult for him to handle. "The girls have grown from obedient little children to thinking young adults," she says. "Ken's coming home to kids who are going to question and challenge him. He's going to want his pristine girls home at 10."
The most painful waiting was done by those 1,300 families whose men are not on the lists, who are still missing in action. In Puyallup, Wash., Mrs. Emma Hagerman remains convinced that her husband, Air Force Colonel Robert Hagerman, is alive somewhere in Indochina, even though he has been missing for nearly six years. "One day I was feeling depressed," she said last week, "and I remembered that if you want a message, you should open the Bible and put your ringer on a verse." She opened the book to Jeremiah, which she had never read before. The text said: "And they shall come again from the land of the enemy." If Hagerman does not appear during the 60-day release period, his wife is thinking of getting a visa and, armed with his photograph, questioning the people around Bac Ninh, where Hagerman's F-105 went down.