The names of Derrel K. Dickey, Arcadia, and Walter W. Martin, Opolis, are inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Washington D.C. in recognition of their sacrifice and service to their country.
Now, a researcher with the “Faces Never Forgotten” project with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is seeking their pictures, along with about 12,000 other fallen heroes, in order to help keep their legacies and stories alive online and at the memorial in Washington D.C.
“I did not know any of these young men personally, but when you work with their names for so long and you finally get that photo you feel like you know them,” said Janna Hoehn, of Maui, Hawaii. “A face just changes the whole dynamic of the wall. It makes it a person. This was somebody’s loved one.”
Six years ago Hoehn began researching Gregory John Crossman, who went MIA in Vietnam, after visiting The Wall for the first time. She said it was surprisingly difficult to locate his picture, but she eventually did so.
Upon hearing about the “Faces Never Forgotten” project she submitted Crossman’s picture and also took on the task of finding photos of Maui’s fallen. She has since worked her way across the country and currently is trying to locate photos of Kansas’ native sons who gave their lives in Vietnam.
“I’m working on the whole state,” Hoehn said. “Right now I’m focusing on Kansas and Oklahoma.”
She said she is receiving photos daily and has completed a number of counties in Kansas, including Bourbon, Cherokee, Neosho and, most recently, Labette, with the final veteran’s photo submitted just last Tuesday.
Five Crawford County residents gave their lives in service, including Steven H. Bennefeld, Girard; Darrel Dickey, Arcadia Walter Martin, Opolis; John P. McDermott, Pittsburg and Daniel S. Muller, Pittsburg, and Hoehn said three of the photos have been located and can be viewed at www.vvmf.org/thewall, where they are being collected and archived.
Hoehn is hoping area residents will be able to help locate photos of Dickey and Martin, as well as those of other veterans whose names are on the wall.
“My plea is this — if anyone is related, a friend or a classmate to any of the young men on the list, I would very much appreciate hearing from you,” Hoehn said. “Even if you don’t have a photo, but know which school any of these young men attended, it would be so helpful. We need to obtain a photo of every single fallen hero whose name is etched on The Wall, all 58,307 of them. To date we have collected almost 47,000 of the 58,000 photos we need.”
Hoehn said she also would appreciate local volunteers to help with the effort, and added in some cases, even if a picture has been found, a higher-quality photo would be beneficial for the organization’s future plans, which include an education center adjacent to the Vietnam Wall in Washington D.C.
“We plan to enlarge each photo from floor to ceiling and rotate it with any other fallen heroes who share their birthday.” Hoehn said.
Photos may be submitted to Hoehn for the project at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Sarah Gooding is a staff writer for The Morning Sun and can be contacted at email@example.com