When the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. was finished in 1983, the wall listed approximately 58,000 servicemen and women who had either died in action or went missing in action during the Vietnam War. Because of a fire at a government storage facility in 1973, the U.S. military lost millions of personnel records, including many of those who were listed on the wall. Although the military and other organizations made efforts to recover lost data, 24,000 veterans listed on the wall had no photo in their military records in 2013.
Thanks to a coordinated effort among Illinois newspapers, nearly 100 photos of Illinois veterans have been located and submitted to the Wall of Faces. However, as of May 1, 2017, Illinois still has 528 servicemembers who do not have a photo in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s database.
We need your help. Adjacent to this article is a list of servicemen and/or women from Cook County that do not have a photo on the Wall of Faces. Do you know any of them? Did you go to high school or serve with one of these men or women? Check your photo archives and yearbooks. Talk to neighbors and former classmates. Please help honor these veterans by putting a face to the name.
According to the VVMF, the wall was constructed to remind everyone that the names on the wall “represent unique people with hopes, dreams and desires—people who were loved and who are missed every day by someone they left behind.”
“It is important for us to honor these people who served and sacrificed for their country. But, we should also remember that they were people, just like us. They enjoyed crazy adventures with high school friends. They had crushes, fell in love and got married. Some even had children. They were people with special talents and many goals. There are so many stories on The Wall—stories of people as diverse as our nation itself.”
Please help honor these young men and women who gave their lives in Southeast Asia. The first step to telling their stories is to locate their photos.