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CLARK AB, R.P. — "Are you this Davies?" the attractive brunette schoolteacher asked the Air Force captain holding out her tiny silver bracelet so he could see the name engraved on it.

"Yes I am," replied John O. Davies. Nancy Graham then launched into the kind of unruly and exuberant behavior she often reproves her pupils for. After grasping Davies' wrist and slipping the bracelet on, she jumped up and down, squealed with delight and threw her arms around the 31-year-old Pennsylvanian's neck.

Those were the kind of memories 18 Americans — prisoners of the North Vietnamese only two days before — took home with them Tuesday as they boarded a giant C141 Starlifter that will take them to Stateside hospitals near their homes.

The second large group to leave this base after being repatriated from years of Communist imprisonment, they numbered 20 when they arrived here late Sunday.

Navy Lt. James W. Bailey, who replaced another man on the returnee list, left Monday to be at the bedside of his critically ill father. One more man, Capt. Joseph Crecca Jr., remained in a hospital bed at this base 50 miles north of Manila.

A spokesman for Operation Homecoming said Crecca had come down with malaria and that while the attack was not too serious it was "inadvisable" for him to travel Tuesday.

Wards at the base hospital, where doctors examined and processed the men, were suddenly as barren and silent as they had been after the last of first group, which numbered 142 men, left on Saturday. But schoolyards and playgrounds at Clark Air Base were vibrant with excitement and song Tuesday.

Twelve of the returnees went to five schools. Davies Maj. Joseph S. Abbott Jr. and Maj. James R. Berger visited Grissom Elementary School only a few hours before their departure.

The presence of children seemed important to them — important to Abbott, who has seven of his own children waiting in Alloway, N.J. — and Davies himself told the children what small, grasping hands and piping voices meant to him.

"I have two little boys," he said "and the last time that I saw them they were a year and a half old and three years old ... I am very anxious to see them and I am especially grateful to be able to come to this select group of kids today so that I can have some idea of what I have to look forward to in just a few hours. God bless you all."

Maj. Jay R. Jensen and Capts. Edward J. Mechenbier and Kevin J. McManus went to Lilly Hill Elementary School auditorium and saw signs — a whole lot of them. "God Bless America and You," read one that was representative of the youthful attitude and spirit. Jensen smiled over the youngsters and said it was wonderful to be loved and appreciated.

"All of you are my children," he said movingly. "It's inspiring to know the youth of today appreciate the finer things in life — loyalty to country. As you grow older, I hope you will be as proud of our country as we are."

Mechenbier and McManus told the children of a thing called friendship — how two Air Force Academy classmates served together in England and were in the same F4C Phantom when it went down over North Vietnam.

They went through the horrendous experience of imprisonment together and were liberated the same day. Did such a thing make them remote, ogreish grouches who snapped at little children? Not a bit.

Both signed autographs to be mimeographed and passed out en masse. One autographed himself, "The Shadow," the other, "The Real Shadow."

At Wagner Middle School, the crush of students was so great that teachers broke up an outdoor rally and sent the 7th and 8th graders back to their home rooms. Cdr. James G. Pine, Capt. Joseph E. Milligan and Capt. James R. Shively went to separate rooms and gave short talks — told with warmth and gratitude how much they appreciated the posters and signs that welcomed them back.

Those came from all the schools on base and covered the windows of a hallway and a Red Cross lounge. Some were beneath plates in the dining hall. Many were expertly drawn, others scrawled in a childish hand.

Before the swarm of 900 students on the middle school grounds became too much to manage, Pirie said, "This is undoubtedly the happiest moment of my life and I hope I don't start crying."

"Go ahead and cry," a voice urged him.

"I forgot my handkerchief," Pine replied.

One touching gift to Shively came from 14-year-old Jim Johnson — the copper POW bracelet that replaced a weaker one which had become so worn it broke. The newer, sturdier bracelet had been hastily engraved with the date Shively was freed.

As a blue ambulance bus pulled up to the Starlifter in the late afternoon, Jim's sister, Susan, waited for Shively — she had the broken bracelet and a bag of chocolate chip cookies.

They came off the bus with prideful precision — a salute to the colors and then to Lt. Gen. William G. Moore 13th Air Force commander Col. John W. Ord, commander of the hospital and Col. Raymond G. Lawry, Air Force deputy for the homecoming project.

Jensen completed the ritual and then spun around to throw kisses at the small flightline crowd. Shively did not disappoint two waiting teenagers. He walked off the red carpet that led to a yellow ramp and ran over to embrace the youngsters. He accepted the cookies and one half' of a bracelet — Susan wanted to keep the other half of a tarnished souvenir for herself.

Mechenbier and McManus got off the bus the same way they had gone through camaraderie and ordeal — together. Their salute to the crowd was as snappy as the one they gave the colors and the three officers. Then they, too, rushed over for embraces and handshakes.

"Always together, huh?" said a bystander.

"I just want to get rid of him," said Mechenbier, flicking a thumb at McManus.

Besides the best wishes of strangers, there was a face both men knew — that of Capt. Dick Toliver, who had served with both men before they were shot down.

Just before the plane lifted off at 3:46 p.m., Pine, as senior officer in the group, stood at a loudspeaker and said:

"Well, we're on our way out. In just a few hours, we'll be crossing the Golden Gate and it's going to be a welcome sight." He thanked everyone for their kindnesses. "I can express the feelings of our whole group. Goodbye and good luck."

Stripes in 7

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