By Carmen Rodgers
A woman conducting a nationwide search for deceased Vietnam War veterans is seeking information on Tallassee’s Richard Clark. Clark was born in Tallassee on Oct. 13, 1948 and perished on Jan. 27, 1969 while serving in the Army.
Janna Hoehn of Hawaii said she has reached out to Clark's family but has not been able to make contact with any of his relatives.
"I left some messages with his siblings; however they have not returned a call yet," Hoehn said.
Hoehn asked anyone with a photo of the fallen Vietnam veteran to submit it to the Wall of Faces online memorial on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund website. Those photos will also accompany the moving wall that travels all over the U.S.
"Putting a face with a name changes the whole dynamic of the wall,” she said. “It keeps our fallen heroes' memories alive and will honor them. Our heroes' stories and sacrifice will never be forgotten."
There are 58,315 deceased soldiers whose names are etched on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., and more than 53,000 photos have been collected.
When Hoehn and her husband made their first trip to Washington eight years ago their first stop was the wall.
"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 Wall," Hoehn said. "Even though I never knew anyone killed in Vietnam, I wanted a rubbing of one of the names. I approached the wall and choose 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 share a photo with me of Gregory."
Hoehn continued her search over the next six months but got nowhere and became discouraged. However, she turned to a family member who was familiar with the past and just how it was chronicled. Six weeks later, she found a college photo of Crossman.
Hoehn decided to get involved with a national organization that aims to put a face with each fallen Vietnam veteran.
"Two years later I saw a story on our local news about the ‘Faces Never Forgotten' for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund," she said. "The goal was to put a face with every name that is etched on the wall. I immediately sent in the photo I had of Gregory Crossman. Five days later, I received an email from Jan Scruggs, the founder and president of the wall. He thanked me for sending the photo; it was the first for this hero and he asked me if I could help him find the photos for the 42 Maui County fallen that were killed in Vietnam. I replied, ‘It would be an honor.' I have always hoped I could to do something for the Vietnam veterans as the way they were treated when they returned was disgraceful. Here was my chance."
She discovered locating more photos was harder than she thought.
"What I thought would be a very easy project with Maui being so small was anything but easy," Hoehn said. "I started by combing the phone books calling every like name of each soldier. I found about 10 of them this way; then off to archived yearbooks for every high school on Maui, I found a few more; then to the library to look for obituaries and I found three more; then I went to The Maui News."
Once Hoehn located all the Maui County photos she decided to continue her mission and began searching for photos of fallen Vietnam veterans in her hometown in California.
Since then she has been involved in several Vietnam veteran photo searches, including the search for Native American soldiers, and eventually began searching for every fallen soldier in her home state.