‘Faces’ still sought

Published 8:50 am Thursday, August 20, 2015

They are so close to the finish line….jump a couple more hurdles are left to clear.

A trio of individuals – one from Hawaii and two brothers who hail from Fayetteville, are part of a nationwide effort to place a photo with each and every name listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

Janna Hoehn, who for the past 25 years has lived on the island of Maui, has teamed up with brothers Jim and Tom Reece in their efforts to locate the families of North Carolina men lost in battle during the Vietnam era (1962-1975).

The efforts of the Reece brothers were featured in an article published last year by this newspaper. At that time they have obtained the photographs of 1,858 of the 1,929 native North Carolinians killed in the war.

Hoehn, who has experience in finding family members of deceased soldiers in Hawaii as well as in her native California, contacted the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald this past March asking for assistance in finding the family members of six local men killed in Vietnam. That effort led to obtaining the photographs of Roy R. West (1942-1968) of Harrellsville; Terrell Gibson (1925-1969) of Garysburg; Rudolph Gorham (1946-1967) of Garysburg; and Freddie Whittaker (1947-1968) of Rich Square.

“As the result of contacting your newspaper, we received photos of four of the six men from your area who gave their life while fighting for our freedom in Vietnam,” said Hoehn in an email correspondence with the News-Herald this week. “But we still need your help in spreading the word that we are still searching for the photographs of two more men from your area.”

Hoehn said photos are needed of Willie R. Rascoe Jr. (1940-1970) of Windsor; and Walter Harris (1947-1966) of Jackson.

“We are so close in completing our effort there in North Carolina,” she remarked. “Putting a face with a name changes the whole dynamic of the Wall; it keeps our fallen heroes memories alive and will honor them. The stories and sacrifice of these heroes will never be forgotten.

“If anyone is related, a friend or a classmate to Mr. Rascoe or Mr. Harris, I would very much appreciate hearing from you,” she added. “Even if you don’t have a photo, but know which school any of these young men attended, it would be so helpful.

“We need to obtain a photo of every single soldier whose names are etched on The Wall, all 58,300 of them. To date we have over 46,000 photos. If you do not know any of the names that are listed from your local area, but you had a loved one or friend whom died in Vietnam, we may need his photo as well,” Hoehn stated.

Those having photos/information on the Roanoke-Chowan local heroes are asked to submit that material to Jim Reece at reecejim@yahoo.com. Reece will forward that material to the “Wall of Faces” online memorial with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, as well as in the future Education Center that will be adjacent to the Vietnam Wall in Washington, DC.

Hoehn is also seeking a local individual that would like to volunteer to do some footwork in his or her community if the effort to find all the photos falls short. She can be contacted at neverforgotten2014@gmail.com.

Like the Reece brothers, Hoehn said the effort spent on this project is well worth the time invested.

“Each and every one of our Vietnam fallen heroes deserve to be honored; it’s the least we can do,” she concluded.

For more information about the Education Center or make a donation to help build the Center, visit www.vvmf.org/thewall.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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