Wall of Faces
To honor and remember the 58,300 men and women who died in the Vietnam War, the Vietnam Memorial Wall was built in 1982 with each name inscribed on it.
Three decades later, the same organization commissioned to build the national memorial is continuing its “Faces Never Forgotten” campaign to put faces to those names by reaching out for photos of each veteran inscribed on The Wall.
According to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the photos will be used in the Education Center at The Wall and can also be found on “The Wall of Faces” at www.vvmf.org.
As of Oct. 21, the memorial fund has located photos for 38,300 of the names on the The Wall. That leaves 20,000 names still in need of a picture.
According to The Wall of Faces website, Allegan County has five missing photos of Vietnam veterans.
They include Russell L. Root, 20, who died March 19, 1967, and Phillip A. Wilson, 21, who died Dec. 16, 1970. Both have their hometown listed as Plainwell, according to the website. Bozy Gerald, 47, who died April 11, 1966, and Charles W. Hammond, 21, who died June 9, 1968, both have a hometown listed as Fennville.
Vernon H. Christoffer, 18, who died on Jan. 31, 1968, has a hometown listed as Saugatuck.
The home county of Kalamazoo for Private First Class Francis E. Sanders may be a surprise for some. The American Legion Post 84 of Otsego is named for him. While Sanders attended grade school in Augusta and high school in Richland, his hometown was listed as Augusta; however, according to the website, his parents resided in Otsego upon his death in Vietnam in 1967. He died saving his platoon from enemy fire during a supposed cease-fire truce on Christmas day.
Since the “Faces Never Forgotten” campaign started in October 2009, three states have collected photographs of every Vietnam veteran listed in their home state. They are New Mexico, Wyoming and North Dakota.
The virtual wall of faces features a page for each person whose name is on The Wall and shares photos, stories and remembrances posted by friends, neighbors classmates and family members.
An advanced search on The Wall of Faces can list veterans by home city, county or state; those missing in action; by name, rank, branch of service, casualty province or date; date of birth; or any combination thereof.
Whether or not the memorial fund already has a photo of the veteran, people are encouraged to submit another photo in an effort to collect as many photos of each veteran as possible. Custom fliers are also available for those organizing a class or family reunion.
To submit a picture online, go to www.vvmf.org/how-to-submit#online or digital copies can be uploaded on the veteran’s profile page.
To submit by mail: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Attn: Call for Photos, 2600 Virginia Ave., NW Suite 104, Washington, D.C. 20037.
The memorial fund is continuing its mission to raise funds to build the Education Center at The Wall to educate future generations and honor America’s Legacy of Service, including those serving in the nation’s Armed Forces today.
According to the website, the Education Center will tell the story of how the Vietnam Memorial Wall became a national memorial site for individual grief and public mourning of those affected by one of the most divisive wars in the nation’s history.
It will include voices of veterans who returned to tell their stories and preserve memories of those who did not. It will also share some of the hundreds of thousands of objects left at The Wall by families, military comrades and others for more than three decades.
The Wall receives an estimated 4.5 million annual visitors who come to heal, take home rubbings of the names for keepsakes and visualize the war’s impact on America.
Vietnam veterans on The Wall whose home county is listed as Allegan
Lyle E. Allen Jr.,19, died April 29, 1968
Kenneth M. Hyett, 21, died Oct. 5, 1965
Rodger Clawson, 20, died July 19, 1966
John B. Nahan III, 21, died Aug. 3, 1967
John S. Baxter, 29, died Aug. 27, 1968
John J. Fleming, 22, died Sept. 30, 1965
Russell L. Root, 20, died March 19, 1967 (Missing photo)
Phillip A. Wilson, 21, died Dec. 16, 1970 (Missing photo)
Larry A. Winslow, 24, died Dec. 7, 1967
James E. Parmelee, 23, died July 14, 1965
Reynaldo Arenas, 20, died Dec. 31, 1968
David Buursma, 23, died Feb. 9, 1968
Jack Elenbaas, 20, died June 8, 1967
Spencer S. Freeston, 20, died Feb. 15, 1968
James W. Hintz, 18, died April 10, 1967
Melvin E. Hoffman, 23, died May 24, 1967
Robert E. Knoll, 21, died Sept. 27, 1968
Douglas L. Koning, 25, died Feb. 2, 1970
Terry R. Meyer, 20, died Aug. 13, 1968
Douglas A. Nieboer, 20, died Sept. 11, 1970
Bruce A. Van Dam, 21, died Feb. 7, 1971
Jack A Van Wieren, 20, died Feb. 28, 1970
Robert J. Westrate, 19, died June 7, 1968
Gordon D. Yntema, 22, died Jan. 18, 1968
Victor J. Canales, 22, died June 5, 1968
Bozy Gerald, 47, died April 11, 1966 (Missing photo)
Charles W. Hammond, 21, died June 9, 1968 (Missing photo)
William L. Tromp, 24, died April 17, 1966
Mario Ramirez, 23, died Jan. 16, 1967
(Ramirez’s home town is listed as Oakland but his home county is listed as Allegan)
Roy W. Chamberlain, 24, died March 23, 1967
James A. Lyons, 21, died Aug. 13, 1968
Phillip J. Vander Weg, 30, died Nov. 27, 1965
Vernon H. Christoffer, 18, Jan. 31, 1968 (Missing photo)
Joe B. Delaphiano, 19, July 10, 1970
(see story for Francis E. Sanders, 19)