Janna Hoehn’s unusual eight-year mission is nearly at an end. From her home on the Hawaiian island of Maui, the native Californian has spent countless hours tracking down photos of fallen Vietnam vets.
It’s a project with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation. The goal is to present them online, in a Wall of Faces, a photo of each of the fallen service members listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
“Out of 58,319 photos, we’re down to the last 349,” Hoehn told me Monday. Of those, nine are from Virginia. One, Aubrey A. Reid Jr., is from Roanoke.
Do you have a photo of Reid? Do you know which Roanoke high school he attended? If so, please drop Hoehn a line at email@example.com.
Here are some clues she provided:
- Reid, one of 49 service members from Roanoke and its vicinity to die in the Vietnam war, was born in 1946, Hoehn said. His parents were Aubrey A. Reid Sr. and Ruth E. Reid.
- He died in Vietnam in 1969. His wife’s name was Tabitha A. Reid. He’s buried at Cedar Lawn Memorial Park off Cove Road in Northwest Roanoke.
- Hoehn has found a few addresses for Reid’s wife and parents in the years that followed his death. Two are in Northwest Roanoke, on Tennessee and Kentucky avenues. Another is in the Old Southwest neighborhood on Marshall Avenue. Hoehn traced the latter address to Reid’s father.
That’s about all she knows, though.
“I wish I knew more about him,” Hoehn told me. “He may have siblings, however the documents I have access to don’t list any.”
She began her volunteer effort on behalf of the Wall of Faces back in 2011, after she and her husband visited Washington.
“Because Vietnam was the war that was going on while I was in high school, the first memorial on my list was the Vietnam Veterans Memorial,” Hoehn said.
She traced a name on the wall, Gregory John Crossman, who was listed as missing in action. She sought to sent the tracing to Crossman’s relatives but couldn’t locate any. Then a cousin, whom Hoehn called “our family historian,” located a college photo of Crossman.
After Hoehn learned of a project to gather photos that matched the names engraved on the wall, she sent Crossman’s college picture to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation. Its president sent her a letter of thanks, and asked Hoehn to research and gather photos from 42 service members from Maui who died in Vietnam.
After the Maui News wrote about her efforts, “I started receiving calls from all over the United States sending me photos,” Hoehn said.
When Hoehn finished gathering information on the 42 fallen troops from Maui, she moved on to finding pictures that matched names of fallen vets from her hometown in Hemet, California. And then she worked state by state, beginning in the West and heading east.
Early in the process, Hoehn discovered the utility of reaching out to newspapers in the states where she was looking.
Counting Hawaii and California, more than 500 newspapers in 28 states have written about Hoehn’s efforts, she said. Now she can add The Roanoke Times to that list.
“The response has been amazing,” Hoehn said. “I have collected over 7,000 photos since 2011.”
Of the 349 people the memorial still needs pictures of, most are from either Puerto Rico or New York, Hoehn said.
But nine, including Reid, were from Virginia, which is why she contacted this newspaper.
Here are the names, birth and death years and hometowns of the others:
- Robert D. Buchanan, 1946-1967, Bristol
- Donald W. McCann, 1940-1966, Danville
- Wayland F. McCauley Jr., 1950-1970, Manassas
- Douglas R. Cooke 1945-1968, Newport News
- Robert L. Pulliam, 1941-1971, Petersburg
- Walter Williams Jr., 1937-1966, Portsmouth
- Franklin R. Watkins, 1934-1967, Meherrin (near Farmville)
- Robert L. Simon Jr., 1943-1965, Richmond
If you have a clue about Aubrey A. Reid Jr. of Roanoke, or any of the other men on the list above, Hoehn wants to hear from you.
“I am also looking for an individual that would like to volunteer to be my ‘boots on the ground’ in your community if we do not find all the photos. It may mean a trip to the library to search for obituaries or to a high school to look through yearbooks,” Hoehn added.
Drop her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and join the hunt for a worthwhile project that’ll help memories of these fallen heroes live in perpetuity.