Sharing Vietnam veterans stories through photos — with your helpView 10 Photos
Do you know these men?
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund still lacks photographs of several Vietnam War veterans from the tri-state area. They are:
Hamilton County, Tennessee
James T. Gray, 1940-1965
Rayfon Lofton, 1944-1966
Franklin D. Ratliff, 1948-1968
Clifton Tanksley, 1931-1967
Tomas C. Tucker, 1943-1969
James F. Watson, 1932-1968
Walker County, Georgia
William L. Byrd, 1944-1970, Rossville
Billy R. Head, 1939-1969, Chickamauga
Billie H. Smith, 1943-1966, Rossville
Chattooga County, Georgia
Benny R. Dupree, 1950-1969, Summerville
Nathaniel Knowles, 1942-1967, Menlo
Floyd County, Georgia
Thomas S. Jones, 1947-1967, Rome
Eddie L. Spivey, 1937-1970, Rome
DeKalb County, Alabama
Louis L. Clanton, 1944-1968, Collinsville
Cherokee County, Alabama
Lewis E. Cantrell, 1944-1967, Centre
Jimmie L. Chamblee, 1945-1970, Centre
Source: Janna Hoehn
As area residents get ready to celebrate Independence Day, a volunteer with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund in Washington, D.C., is making another plea for help in finding photographs of a few Vietnam War veterans.
When Janna Hoehn first contacted the Times Free Press in February, she needed photos for 22 fallen heroes from Hamilton County, out of 88 from the county who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.
The veterans' images appear on tribute pages on the VVMF's website, www.vvmf.org, and eventually will be used as part of a planned education center in the nation's capital. The $130 million facility will include more personal histories of the 58,315 veterans whose names are inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.
About $42 million has been raised for the education center, which will be located on the National Mall near the Wall, according to Heidi Zimmerman, director of communications for the VVMF. Much of the expense, she says, comes from locating the center underground to preserve the sight lines between the Wall and the Lincoln Memorial.
Hoehn says when the museum opens, photos will be enlarged "from floor to ceiling" once a year, rotating all day with other fallen heroes who share the same birthday.
Hoehn is one of several volunteers who have tracked down more than 55,000 photos to add to the website since 2009. Friends and family also can add photos and personal remembrances to the website.
"Putting a face with a name changes the whole dynamic of the Wall," Hoehn previously told the Times Free Press. "It keeps our fallen heroes' memories alive and will honor them. Our heroes' stories and sacrifice will never be forgotten."
Hoehn says she's heard from numerous families eager to share photos and stories of their personal heroes.
"Speaking with the families is always memorable," she says. "They are so elated that someone cares about their loved one."
Hoehn, who lives in Hawaii, has been volunteering for the project since 2011, gathering some 6,000 photos.
"I have worked from west to east," she says. I just started the state of Alabama and the next state is Illinois. We have completed 30 states now. I just completed Missouri, Oklahoma and Louisiana recently. Kentucky is nearly done, as well as Arkansas, 10 more for each."
The original story in the Times Free Press also included the names of veterans from surrounding counties in Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Northeast Alabama. Of those, photos for nine veterans are still needed.
Hoehn says photographs come from multiple sources, including former classmates who have yearbook photos or members of the community who have saved old newspaper notices with obituary photos of the fallen heroes.
"However we prefer finding family as they have the best-quality photos," she says.
Hoehn says she's grateful for the help she has received from each community as she reaches out to find the missing photographs. She considers each one "a national treasure."
"I just want to thank your readers who helped and to ask for a little more help to pull in these last photos," she says.
Contact Lisa Denton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6281.