A Hawaii resident is seeking help in Athens as part of her mission to honor fallen soldiers of the Vietnam War.
As reported in the Athens Banner-Herald, Janna Hoehn volunteers for the Wall of Faces, a project collecting photographs of all soldiers whose names are inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Of the 48,318 soldiers killed, Hoehn said they are missing the photographs of an estimated 1,078 soldiers, including three from Athens and one from Greensboro.
“I’ve been on this project for eight years. I’ve pulled in over 7,000 photos now and every single one is precious,” she said recently in a telephone interview. “We have done incredibly well, but there is no stopping until we get the last photo.”
There are 1,585 soldiers from Georgia that are recorded on The Wall.
“The number changes about daily, but as of (May 10) we need 92 more photos from Georgia,” Hoehn said.
The soldiers from Athens she is needing photos for are U.S. Army Private Fred L. Thomas, who died Aug. 15, 1966; U.S. Army Private Leroy Mitchell, who died April 18, 1970; and U.S. Army Sgt. Charles B. Carey, who died Oct. 13, 1969.
Up until last week, she was looking for a photo of U.S. Marine Cpl. Jeff Whitehead, who died March 16, 1969, during gunfire in a battle at Quang Nam Province. The Athens Banner-Herald with the help of retired Athens-Clarke policeman Frank Platt was able to get Hoehn his photo.
Hoehn’s mission to find these photos started after Jan Scruggs, the founder and president of the Vietnam Wall, asked if she would help find the photos of 42 soldiers from Maui County in Hawaii, where she has been a resident for 28 years.
After that, she began searching for the photos for soldiers from her native state of California.
“It wasn’t until I started contacting newspapers that I really started getting activity on this project. The newspapers work. Usually family or friends will see the article and they will email me. ... I’m crossing my fingers hoping that might happen in your town,” she said.
Articles have appeared in over 500 newspapers across the country, she said.
“It’s an incredible feeling to know you are part of something of this magnitude; to make sure these young men are never forgotten,” she said. ”... “I was a florist for 44 years. I have done many events, thousands of weddings and I loved my work, but it doesn’t hold a candle about how I feel about this project.”
Volunteers do most of the research and work needed to find the photos.
“It really helps when I’ve got what I call my boots on the ground – people that volunteer to help find those last few photos,” Hoehn said, explaining these volunteers often visit libraries to research obituaries in old newspapers. “Family is what I’m hoping to find. They might have his basic training photo or senior photo.”
To submit a photo or information to Hoehn, contact her at email@example.com.
For more information on the Wall of Faces, go to www.vvmf.org/thewall.
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