- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 9, 2018

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - A Hawaii woman is working to put a face with the name of every fallen serviceman on the Vietnam Wall, and she is searching for photos of four men who lived in Lee County.

Janna Hoehn, of Maui, said she took an interest in the project when she and her husband visited Washington, D.C., for the first time eight years ago. Because the Vietnam War was happening while she was in high school, the first stop on her must-see list was the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

“Even though I never knew anyone killed in Vietnam, I wanted a rubbing of one of the names (on the wall),” Hoehn recalled. “I approached the wall and chose a name: Gregory John Crossman, an MIA. When I returned home, I decided to research Gregory and try to find his family. In the event they were never able to go to the Wall, I would send them the etching, hoping they would send me a picture of Gregory.

“Off and on for six months, I researched every way possible and never found any family. I was quite disappointed. However, I had one more possibility: my cousin, our family historian. Six weeks later, she found a college photo of Gregory.”

Two years later, Hoehn was watching a local news broadcast when she saw a story about the “Faces Never Forgotten” program for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. The goal of the program is to match every name on the wall with a photo of each fallen veteran.

Hoehn submitted the photo of Crossman and shortly thereafter became a volunteer with the project, first finding photos of the 42 fallen from Maui County before branching out to other areas of the nation.


The local connection

In Alabama, Auburn High School AP history teacher Blake Busbin and his students began collecting photos for the “Faces Never Forgotten” project during the 2015-2016 academic year. They have helped locate about 300 photos of fallen Vietnam veterans from Alabama and Georgia, according to Busbin.

“The most powerful pictures are with, unfortunately, the children and spouses they left behind,” Busbin said. “It shows us the reality of war that a name can help us understand, but to then connect with a person’s face, which carries so many emotions, it just takes a large step more into our own memory.”

The state teacher of the year finalist said he still receives about one email each month from people wanting to know if photos for certain fallen veterans are needed.

“Too, we’ll get questions of, ‘Hey, I saw that you submitted this picture for this individual. Would you happen to know where their family is today? I was friends with him in the service,’” Busbin continued. “So it’s really been a way to connect with those who those fallen soldiers meant the world to. It’s still helping the healing process, to this day.”

Photos of four area veterans - one from Salem and three from Phenix City - have yet to be located, according to Hoehn.

Young D. Ogletree, of Salem, was born in 1944 and died in 1968, she said. Joe L. Jones of Phenix City was born in 1938 and died in 1968; Elijah Miles Jr. of Phenix City was born in 1947 and died in 1968; and Robbie R. Mills of Phenix City was born in 1938 and died in 1967.

Family members, or anyone with photos or information about Jones, Miles, Mills or Ogletree, can email [email protected], Hoehn said.

For more information about the Education Center, including viewing photos and biographies of fallen Vietnam veterans, or to make a donation to help build the center, visit vvmf.org/thewall.

“All of these photos will be submitted to the ‘Wall of Faces’ online memorial with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund website, as well as in the future Education Center that will be adjacent to the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C.,” Hoehn said.

“Putting a face with a name changes the whole dynamic of the Wall. It keeps our fallen heroes’ memories alive and will honor them. Our heroes’ stories and sacrifice will never be forgotten.”

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