Seeking Photos Of Vietnam Dead
Last week I was in our nation’s Capitol, and as is my usual routine, I spent some time at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. After seeking out my crew-man’s name, Plaque 4 East Line 135, “LTJG Robert Taft Hanson” — he was killed during the battle for our capture after ejecting from our crippled jet over North Vietnam — I backed off to a distance so I could see the entire wall — like a black chevron tucked down into the rolling green. I recalled the first time I had seen it. I had been amazed by the dozens of objects left lovingly at the base of the wall: well-worn teddy bears, framed portraits, books, letters and cards, school year-books, class rings, toys and, of course, flowers. I had thought, what a phenomenon! Somehow, this has to be preserved … and now it will be.
The newly conceived “Vietnam Wall Education Center” will be a joint project. The National Park Service and Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund are collaborating to build the long-awaited final addition to the The Wall. It will be built with private donations only, to the tune of $111 million. The fundraising campaign is being led by Gen. Colin Powell and Gen. Barry McCaffrey. The national spokesman is Tom Selleck. It will be two stories, all underground, in close proximity to The Wall. The ground-breaking is scheduled for 2016.
The center will be organized around the seven core values of Loyalty, Respect, Service, Honor, Duty, Integrity and Courage. Hundreds of the 400,000 personal offerings — like the ones mentioned above — will be displayed there, along with a matching photograph of every one of the 58,000-plus names inscribed on the wall. Of course, this latter feature has required a huge, ongoing coordinated national effort, state by state, including 312 names and photos of Hawaii’s fallen warriors.
The first son of Hawaii lost in Vietnam was SP5 James P. Gabriel, whose sister Billie Gabriel has been at the fore-front of a band of highly motivated volunteers collecting the pictures of all those names on the wall from Hawaii. Hopefully, you will have seen the full-page ads in the Star-Advertiser last week (generously donated by S-A for the cause), which gave the names of the final 25 to be identified. The ads included their ages and the communities they were from. If you recognize a name on the list and know the family or the high school they attended, a follow-up with the family or of the school’s yearbooks could very well yield a missing photo. If you have any information that could lead to a picture, please contact Gabriel at billie@-gabrielmmi.com or Janna Hoen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The names, dates of birth and death, and their Hawaii community are as follows:
Joseph J. Del Rosario, 1926-1969, Aiea
Samuel E. Dick,1950-1970, Honolulu
Masaichi Fujimoto, 1925-1967, Honolulu
Samuel P. Giffard, 1933-1966, Honolulu
Alexander Gonzales, 1921-1967, Honolulu
Kaoru Honda, 1928-1967, Hilo
Felicisimo A. Hugo, 1925-1967, Wahiawa
James H. Ishihara, 1922-1963, Honolulu
Steve F. Johnson, 1946-1970, Kailua-Kona
Edward Y. Kim, 1930-1966, Wahiawa
Dixon T. Kinnard, 1934-1969, Honolulu
John Levinthol Jr., 1948-1968, Honolulu
Leonard G. Maquiling, 1948-1971, Honolulu
Wolfgang T. Mohl, 1943-1967, Papaikou
Robert L. Nueko, 1943-1966, Nanakuli
Florendo B. Pascual, 1924-1965, Honolulu
Tiofilo C. Pimentel, 1926-1966, Wahiawa
Arturo S. Rodriguez, 1945-1968, Honolulu
Lee E. Sinclair, 1940-1969, Honolulu
Phillip H. Stevens, 1934-1972, Wahiawa
Albert H. Tatsuno, 1934-1966, Aiea
Pelesasa S. Tauanuu, 1940-1968, Honolulu
William R. Taylor, 1947-1968, Honolulu
Richard R. Tesoro, 1947-1968, Honolulu
Eugene C. Zamora, 1948-1969, Honolulu
In my last column, I wrote about the World Trade Center Memorial in Manhattan, and about how the selection committee for the memorial sought out a design that would engender a feeling of “permanent absence.” The photos of all the victims in the WTC museum helped take some of the sting out of that absence.
Hopefully, the photos matching the names on the Vietnam Wall (also to be projected upon the wall of the education center on the occasion of each hero’s birthday) will help to blunt the sting of that “absence” as well.