Photos sought of 16 Snohomish County men who died in Vietnam

She is on a mission to remember.

Janna Hoehn is searching for photos of 16 men from Snohomish County who died in the Vietnam War. She’s been collecting pictures of fallen soldiers for the Faces Never Forgotten project for the past three years. It’s an effort to put a face and a story with every name that is etched on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington D.C.

“It makes the person real,” Hoehn said. “When you see a picture, it changes the whole dynamic of the Vietnam memorial. It brings it to life.”

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is compiling photos for the project. The nonprofit has also created the Wall of Faces, an online display with the photos. The group is raising money to build an education center next to the memorial on the National Mall.

So far, more than 37,000 photos have been collected to accompany the 58,300 names etched in the black granite wall. Hoehn has found almost 800 of those pictures.

She spends her spare time looking for them when she’s not working as a floral designer in Kihei, Hawaii. Hoehn, 58, got involved after a trip to see the wall several years ago. She was in high school during the Vietnam War so it was the first memorial she wanted to visit.

“Seeing all those names, I cried,” Hoehn said. “It was very, very powerful. It changed my life.”

Hoehn had two cousins who served in Vietnam but she did not know anyone who died in the war. Still, during that visit, she wanted to take home an etching of a name from the wall. She chose Gregory John Crossman, a soldier who was missing in action. She returned home and started researching to find his family. Hoehn had hoped to give them the etching she’d made.

Though she never found his family, she did find a photo of Crossman. Later, she saw a news story about the project seeking photos and sent Crossman’s in. A few days later, Jan Scruggs, the founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, asked for her help.

“It was such an honor,” Hoehn said.

She started researching and found photos of all 42 fallen soldiers from Maui County, where she lives now. Once she’d collected those, she made a display. She started presenting it at high schools and community meetings. She said she feels close to the Maui soldiers because she has learned so much about them through her research.

“I feel like I have 42 brothers watching over me,” she said.

She continued her search for six fallen soldiers from her hometown, Hemet, California. Hoehn, who graduated from Hemet High in 1973, said she remembers being moved when she saw how the soldiers were treated upon their return from Vietnam.

“The boys were being spit on. They were being called terrible names,” she said. “Most of these young men were drafted. For them to go do what they were asked to do and be treated so horribly is just heartbreaking.”

Hoehn then got involved in finding the photos of Native American soldiers from California. Her commitment grew after she learned that close to 90 percent of the 86,000 Native Americans who enlisted in the Vietnam War had volunteered.

That led to her decision to take on the rest of California. So far, she has completed 29 of the state’s 58 counties. Because she has family in Washington, finding soldiers here has become her most recent mission.

“People, especially those my age and older who remember the Vietnam War, want to make sure these boys are honored,” she said.

Hoehn was recognized earlier this year for putting in more than 500 hours of work for veterans with the President’s Volunteer Service Award. But, she said, her life has become more enriched through meeting people, particularly the families of the fallen soldiers. Now, she hopes people here will assist in her quest to remember 16 Snohomish County veterans.

“To be able to help those families honor their loved ones, there’s nothing like that feeling,” she said. “It’s such an important project to remember our heroes. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten.”

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; anile@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @AmyNileReports

Get involved

To submit photos or information, email Janna Hoehn at neverforgotten2014@gmail.com.

Hoehn said information, such as what high school a soldier attended, is helpful when people do not have photos. Local volunteers are needed to do footwork on the project.

For more information, go to vvmf.org/thewall.

Photos of these Snohomish County men are being sought:

Dennis D. Bradley, Marysville, 1943-1966

Stephen L. Busby, Arlington, 1949-1970

Donald R. Cote, Mountlake Terrace, 1947-1967

Edward A. Hopkins, Edmonds, 1942-1969

Morris K. James, Lynnwood, 1942-1968

Stanley J. Kerr, Everett, 1944-1967

Billie D. Landers, Everett, 1926-1966

Paul N. Larson, Everett, 1943-1968

Anthony M. Leach, Lynnwood, 1948-1967

Michael L. Lickey, Monroe, 1948-1969

Steven J. Minkler, Lynnwood, 1952-1971

Lawrence W. Parranto, Everett, 1949-1969

Ricardo W. Regalado, Everett, 1949-1969

Gregory C. Thompson, Marysville, 1950-1970

Melvin R. White, Everett, 1938-1968

Dale A. Yateman, Lynnwood, 1947-1969

Note: The cities listed above are where the soldiers enlisted.

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