Evelyn Fowler Grubb went from
housewife to activist when her husband, Capt. Wilmer Newlin “Newk”
Grubb, disappeared in Vietnam.
During that time, the care of her sons was left to a man who today works
at U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM).
FORSCOM employee and former Soldier Bruce R. Carlson and his family met
Grubb in the early 1970s while assigned at Fort Lee, Va. Carlson and his
wife, Sharon, took care of Grubb’s four boys while the Air Force wife
worked tirelessly to find out more about her missing husband.
Grubb initially received limited information from the U.S. government
after her husband’s disappearance and began working with other military
wives facing similar situations. These military families formed groups
that eventually became the National League of POW/MIA Families.
As its national coordinator in Washington, D.C., in 1971 and 1972, Grubb
played a part in creating the league’s distinctive “You Are Not
Forgotten” black- and-white flag now flies at nearly every Army post and
Although suffering from cancer, Grubb began work on an inspirational
book about the POW/MIA accountability movement with author and
journalist Carol Jose. Grubb died from breast cancer Dec. 28, 2005, but
the book efforts continued.
Like her POW/MIA message of remembrance and appreciation, Grubb never
forgot the kindness of the Carlson family.
“Just two weeks prior to her death, she sent my wife and I a draft copy
of the biography book with a special note that we were much a part of
her life and she wanted to ensure we saw it before she passed away,”
Carlson said recently. “It arrived on Christmas Eve 2005. Needless to
say, it was a very special Christmas gift.”
The book discusses the importance of strong military families supporting
each other in times of need and war.
The book, “You Are Not Forgotten: A Family’s Quest for Truth and the
Founding of the National League of Families,” tells how Grubb managed
her life as a parent of four newly fatherless children while working to
gain recognition and resolution for those held prisoner or missing in
"Sadly, not many Americans cared one way or another about
what happened in faraway Southeast Asia."
While raising her four sons alone, Grubb met with government officials
at the highest levels in the United States — including Henry Kissinger
and Richard Nixon — and championed the cause in many other countries,
according to book information.
“After eight long and traumatic years of waiting and hoping, Evelyn and
her family were officially notified that her beloved Newk had perished
in captivity from unsubstantiated causes soon after his capture,”
according to Vandamere Press.
“Sadly, not many Americans cared one way or another about what happened
in faraway Southeast Asia,” Grubb said when her husband’s remains
ultimately were disinterred from a mound of dirt that served as his
grave in North Vietnam and were buried in Arlington National Cemetery in
The Carlson family was one Army Family that cared, and continues to
care, so they hosted Jose while she visited Atlanta.
Jose, a Melbourne Beach, Fla., journalist and former Florida Today
newspaper columnist, continues to discuss Grubb’s personal struggle to
find out what happened to her husband during the Vietnam War and Grubb’s
teamwork on behalf of persons who are POW/MIA.
“I speak about what these families accomplished,” Jose told her old
newspaper in an interview last year. “These were all housewives. Evelyn
took on the world. She interacted with the highest people in government
... with the president.”
Part testament to the tenacity of military families, the Washington Post
noted Grubb’s national and international cause.
“She presented a human rights petition to the United Nations, calling
for humane treatment of POWs and adherence to the Geneva Conventions
governing the treatment of prisoners of war, according to a January 2006
piece. “She spoke with government officials in several European
countries and to the governing body of the International Red Cross in
Switzerland, advocating the release of prisoners.”
There are now 1,741 American personnel listed by the Defense
Department’s POW/MIA Office as missing and unaccounted for from the
Vietnam War, as of April 2009. The number of U.S. personnel accounted
for since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 is 841.
About 90 percent of the 1,741 still missing were lost in Vietnam or
areas of Laos and Cambodia under Vietnam’s wartime control, according to
the National League of Families Web site.
This year, National POW/MIA Recognition Day will be observed Friday,
Sept. 18. All or most of the 50 states also proclaim POW/MIA Recognition
Day in conjunction with the national effort.