When 1st Lieutenant Bill Potter was shot down fifty years ago during the Vietnam War in Laos (where our government said we were not fighting), the Air Force listed him as Missing In Action. Senator Young intervened with the Air Force and obtained an on scene report that his aircraft was shot down at a low altitude crashing in a ball of flame with no parachutes seen. The Air Force refused the request of his widow Betsy to change his status to Killed In Action so she could get on with her life. She was forced to go through the indignity of nullifying their marriage on the grounds he had “deserted” her. Betsy remarried a Navy flight officer with whom she has two adult children and four grandchildren. At the UND “Homecoming” weekend in 1980 this plaque was dedicated In Memory of Bill Potter in the library of the Sigma Chi fraternity house. Bill’s widow Betsy read this poem she wrote:
There's a comforting thought at the end of the day when I'm tired or lonely or sad
It's the picture of you in the eye of my mind that tells me that things aren't so bad
Our time was so short - our marriage so brief - that before we began we were through
But I'm certain of one thing the older I grow...I AM GLAD I TOUCHED SHOULDERS WITH YOU.
Did you know you stood straight? Did you know you stood tall? Did you know that I leaned on you hard? Did you know with your wonderful whimsical wonderful ways you cheered me with your simplest word?
There's a legacy left from the smile one your face…left to me and to all whom you knew And that legacy is that we all love to live - never mind if our years should be few.
As I go on through life I'm a serviceman's wife once again as I was once before
It's now harder because I have children to shield if I send a husband to war.
But you gave me your name so I'd represent you and I've shown I can see hard times through
For I have with me always the courage you gave……WHEN ONCE I TOUCHED SHOULDERS WITH YOU.
When she looked up from reading her poem she saw there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. ALL HONOR TO HIS NAME!