An effort to put a face to the names of the 58,286 veterans who lost their lives in the Vietnam War – including 31 from San Luis Obispo County – is underway nationwide.
Their images will be included in an Education Center planned near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. Images for 11 local veterans are still needed.
“It can be any kind of photo. It can be a wedding photo, a prom photo, a yearbook picture. We just want a picture of these young men,” said Janna Hoehn, a Maui resident who’s helping to collect photos of California veterans.
Hoehn got involved with the project after visiting The Wall and making an etching of the name of a soldier.
“Even though I never knew anyone killed in Vietnam, I wanted an etching,” said Hoehn in an email. “I approached The Wall and chose a name — Gregory John Crossman, an MIA.”
Hoehn spent more than six months trying to find his family, wanting to send them the etching and hoping to learn more about him. She never found his family but was able to find a college photo of him. She submitted that photo to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and was informed that it was the first photo of the vet that had been submitted.
Jan Scruggs, founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, asked Hoehn to help find photos for the 42 Maui soldieries killed in Vietnam. She was delighted and quickly her passion turned into a long-term commitment of helping to collect photos of all the Vietnam veterans from California, where she was raised.
So far, volunteers have collected over 32,000 photographs of the 58,286 names of soldiers whose names are etched on the memorial.
“If anyone is related, a friend or a classmate to any of the San Luis Obispo County boys I would very much appreciate hearing from you. Even if you don't have a photo but know which school any of these young men attended, it would be so helpful,” she said.
Photos and information can be emailed to Hoehn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fundraising is underway for the Education Center, which is envisioned to show the pictures and tell the stories of those who died during the Vietnam War, as well as show some of the more than 400,000 items left at The Wall over the years, according to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund website.
Photos sought for 11 SLO County veterans:
Eric A. Bosch 1948-1969 Atascadero
Arnold A. Chap De Laine Jr 1944-1968 Arroyo Grande
Dennis R. Dieball 1948-1967 Oceano
David W. Dyer 1947-1968 Arroyo Grande
Gary D. Halliday 1951-1971 Atascadero
William J. Hansen 1950-1968 Atascadero
Robert S. Maguire 1947-1967 Atascadero
Roy E. Parker 1946-1969 Shell Beach
Terry D. Ratliff 1950-1968 Atascadero
Lucio J. Reis 1949-1971 Arroyo Grande
Kenneth D. Schwartz 1947-1968 Paso Robles