FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — OCT 30, 2013 –
By Steve Marschke
A Hawaii woman is on a mission to help us remember “the boys.”
Her mission is to help those trying “to put a face with every name” etched on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.. They’re trying to collect a photo of every American who lost his life in the Vietnam War.
Her effort has put Janna Hoehn in touch first with media in Maui County, then with her hometown in California, and now with other California newspapers. Hoehn has a list of soldiers for whom she’d like to find photographs, and six of those fallen vets were from West Sacramento.
How did Hoehn get started?
“Five years ago, my husband and I made our first trip to Washington, D.C.,” she explained in an email. “Because Vietnam was the war that was going on while I was in high school, the first memorial on my list was the Vietnam Memorial Wall. Even though I never knew anyone in Vietnam, I wanted an etching.”
Using a piece of paper held over the engraved stone wall of the memorial, Hoehn traced the name of a fallen soldier at random. It was Gregory John Crossman, MIA (missing in action). She tried to locate his family to send them the etching, but couldn’t find them. Later, though, she found a photo of Crossman and then heard about a “call for photos” by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. After she sent it into the memorial fund, she was asked to track down photos of the other 42 Maui County soldiers who died in Vietnam.
“I started by combing the phone books, calling every ‘like’ name of each soldier,” said Hoehn. “I found about ten of them this way, then (went) off to the archived yearbooks for every high school in Maui. I found a few more.”
She also looked through newspaper obituaries at the library, and got publicity in the Maui News and its website. Photos started coming in, and she got all 42.
Hoehn then moved on to finding photos for the six soldiers from her hometown area (San Jacinto and Hemet, California) who were killed in Vietnam. Now she’s expanded her search to the whole state, making it her mission to find a photo of every California native who died in that war.
“All of these photos will be submitted to the ‘Wall of Faces’ online memorial with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, as well as the future Education Center adjacent to the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C.,” said Hoehn. “Putting a face with a name changes the whole dynamic of the wall. It keeps these soldiers alive and will honor them. Our heroes’ stories and sacrifice will never be forgotten.”
On her list right now are four fallen soldiers listed from West Sacramento:
Richard Arias (who lived from 1944 to his Vietnam War death in 1969); Thomas E. Bumgarner (1933-1969); Dickie D. Koell, Jr. (1950-1969); and Franklin R. White (1938-1963).
She’s also seeking photos from two men listed as living in Broderick (now part of West Sacramento): Charles A. Coats (1950-1968) and John W. Tiderencel (1947-1969).
“If anyone (reading this) is related – a friend or a classmate to any of these Yolo County boys, I would very much appreciate hearing from you,” said Hoehn. “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 soldier whose name is etched on the wall – all 58,286 of them. To date, we have 32,000 photos.”
Hoehn is also looking for anyone who can help with local “legwork” on the project.
You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone who finds a picture of one of these fallen West Sacramentans is also invited to send a copy of the photo, and any pertinent details, to the News-Ledger at email@example.com.
For more information on the memorial wall, visit www.vvmf.org/thewall.
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