Pictured: Michael Marks was one of the last two photos found by VVMF Volunteer Janna Hoehn in order to complete the state's effort for finding each of the 192 names on The Wall.
In November 2014, South Dakota completed the effort of putting a face to the 192 South Dakotians on The Wall.The midwestern state joins New Mexico, Wyoming, and North Dakota in their momentous feat collecting photos for each of their state's fallen servicemembers.
The campaign for collecting photos of the 58,300 on The Wall are part of VVMF's "Faces Never Forgotten" effort that gathers the photographs and stories of the servicemen and women who gave their lives in the Vietnam War. All are memorialized on VVMF's Virtual Wall of Faces, an online memorial page for each casualty. With less than 20,000 Vietnam veterans listed on The Wall who are in need of photographs, VVMF is proud that dedicated volunteers, friends, and family members are motivated to help reach this groundbreaking goal.
"Putting a face with a name changes the whole dynamic of The Wall. It keeps these soldiers alive and will honor them," says Janna Hoehn, a Faces Never Forgotten Volunteer. Hoehn, a Maui resident, submitted the final two photos needed for South Dakota to put a face to every name of their own. Her mission to this effort began years ago on a trip to Washington, D.C., when she chose a name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at random. That name was Gregory John Crossman, who remains MIA today. She returned home to Maui, Hawaii, only to later find his photo in a college yearbook.
Two years later, Janna learned that VVMF was also searching for photos and she submitted Gregory's photo to VVMF's Virtual Wall of Faces. After a year of combing through phone books, yearbooks, and obituaries, Janna succeeded in submitting a photo for each person from Maui who gave their life in Vietnam.
The photos and stories of the more tha 58,300 servicemembers will live online and will be displayed at The Education Center at The Wall in Washington, D.C. Using the latest digital technology, The Education Center will connect future generations to the lasting impacts, insights, and individual heroes of the Vietnam War by personalizing those who sacrificed so much. While VVMF is excited to celebrate this hard-earned achievement, the work is far from complete. There are still 79 South Dakota photos assessed as poor quality, which means that ultimately better photos are needed to be displayed at The Education Center.
The Education Center at The Wall will bring these photos and their stories to life. Learn more about it here.