Air Force Capt. Robert Tucci was shot down behind enemy lines and presumed killed in action during the Vietnam War. His remains were recently found in Laos and were returned to North Texas on Thursday, along with the remains of Maj. James Dennany, who was also in the cockpit.
Kathi Couch has worn a shiny silver bracelet with Tucci's name on and off for more than 30 years.
"Capt. Robert Tucci -- his name has just been kind of part of my life," she said.
She has had the bracelet since high school.
"Each bracelet has the rank and the name and the date that the service person went missing," Couch said. "It was like a positive slant on the anti-war movement."
Tucci was a stranger to Couch, but she always prayed for his safe return.
She learned from a television news report Thursday that his remains were found and would have a military burial.
"I heard his name, and I was like, 'That can't be,'" she said. "I had to go to the ceremony today."
Tucci and Dennany were buried at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery on Friday.
"I didn't know anyone there, so I just would reach over and kind of -- when they were talking about him -- I just kind of held the bracelet, just to kind make that final connection with him," Couch said.
She said it was a connection she'll cherish forever, knowing the officer she carried around with her for years finally made it home.
"I feel like I know him," Couch said. "Just to be there and kind of be a part of it, it was very touching."
She said she hopes to meet Tucci's relatives and show them the bracelet she's kept for so long.