|Vietnam Veterans of America|
Twenty-five or so volunteers across the nation have been working on “The Wall of Faces,” a virtual project to locate a photograph for every name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Slowly but surely, working with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, they have gotten close to finding photos for all 58,278 names on The Wall, which are then posted at www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces
“All of us are volunteers for the VVMF Wall of Faces project,” Janna Hoehn of Hawaii explained. “I started this campaign ten years ago. Along the way, through newspaper articles, others have joined the team to help find the remaining photos. Jackie Hatton started working with me when I was working on her state of Oklahoma.”
They scour genealogical websites and newspaper obituary pages from 50 years ago. They look through local newspapers, high school yearbooks, boot camp photos, next-of-kin documents, and newspaper online morgues.
It’s a daunting task, but people like Janna Hoehn and Jackie Hatton are up to the job. They are relentless in their pursuit of photos for the Wall of Faces. Hoehn stopped counting after she’d found more than seven thousand photos. But she continues the job. Most of the work is done on home computers and on the telephone.
“I just happen to be the lead,” Hoehn said. “The others saw my stories in the their hometown newspapers, and they volunteered to help me.”
Not all sources are forthcoming; some families simply don’t want to be reminded of the tragedies in their lives. The loss of a loved one is difficult under any circumstances; to relive it over and over is sometimes too much to bear. Others just don’t want to be bothered. Public libraries are a reliable source—but many don’t have the time, resources, or incentive to research.
“I have gone state by state to try and find the missing photos,” Hoehn said. “We have completed 28 states, I believe. I left New York and Puerto Rico until last. I knew they would be difficult.”
New York City is a special problem. When an individual there was drafted or enlisted during the Vietnam War, the military would use “New York City” as the home of record—but New York is comprised of five boroughs, each with several dozen micro municipalities. The Borough of Queens, for example, has nearly sixty.
It’s a time-consuming job, Hatton and Hoehn concede, but one that needs to be done. “They gave the last full measure,” Hatton said, “and they deserve every ounce of respect and recognition we can give them.”
Some of the best sources for photos have tapped out. VVMF’s Virtual Wall was a rich resource, but the volunteers have exhausted that, having used every photo on the site. As of today, they do not have photos of about 150 men whose names are on The Wall.
The volunteers need your help. You can find the list of names without photos below. All but four are from New York and Puerto Rico.
If you knew any of these guys, served with or grew up with any of them, please contact the Wall of Faces Project. Email Janna Hoehn at email@example.com or Jackie Hatton at firstname.lastname@example.org
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