For 11 years, Janna Hoehn has been on a personal mission. A dedicated volunteer researcher, the 30-year resident of Maui has devoted herself to preserving the memory of all veterans inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall by locating their photographs for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s Wall of Faces.
Now Janna is on the brink of completing her quest. However, 18 men are still missing photos. She is appealing to the public to help her put faces to these names.
“It’s important for everyone to get involved,” she told Vietnam magazine. “I’m just hoping someone who knows these last few young men can help us out here.”
As years fly by, memories fade, and surviving relatives pass away, information steadily becomes lost in obscurity. Yet Janna has been fighting back the sands of time—and winning. She has single-handedly uncovered and preserved countless photographs of servicemen whose names, etched into the immensity of the Wall, might otherwise seem disconnected from the imprint of their life. Even if nobody remains alive who personally remembers these men, Janna is determined to persist. This mission has become her duty, and she holds that preserving each veteran’s memory for posterity is in and of itself a triumph over the personal tragedies caused by the war.
“His life mattered. Even if a veteran’s family is gone, we still need to honor him,” she told Vietnam magazine. “The Vietnam veterans were not honored when they came home. They were treated terribly, and how they were treated really resonated with the families of these fallen. These families lost their loved one. It was really hard for them. Even if immediate family is not there, there should be some family that’s still left. Whether or not there is any family whatsoever, each man’s life was important and we want to honor him.”
A Personal Mission
Janna’s journey towards helping Vietnam veterans began in high school. “Every single day of my high school years for four years was Vietnam,” she recalled. “In just about every class, we were talking about what happened that day in Vietnam. It affected me a lot.”
Two of her cousins served in Vietnam. One of them never recovered from what he had experienced in the war, said Janna. “My cousin hardly wanted to talk about Vietnam at all. I wrote him every single week—at least one letter a week the entire time he was in Vietnam. I was about 14 or 15 years old. He always answered my letters. I did notice a huge difference in him when he came home. He was always a quiet shy person but seemed even more so when he came back. The war really affected him greatly. He had really bad PTSD. He didn’t talk about Vietnam until about two years before he died from the effects of Agent Orange. It was a very painful death. It makes me so incredibly sad.”
She vividly remembers the continuous media coverage of the war. “There was a lot on TV,” she remembered. “Just about the time I was graduating, they started coming home. The war ended in ’75. I graduated in ’73. I was seeing them coming home on TV. It had a huge impact on me.”
The mistreatment of veterans by antiwar protesters bothered her at the time, and continues to be a source of pain for her today. “I was very aware of all the protesting. I don’t have any problems with people protesting a war, but protesting the warrior is a whole different thing,” she said. “These young men went and did what they were asked to do and then they were treated terribly when they came home.”
As Janna’s research has deepened her ties with many Vietnam veterans, the shadows of discrimination cast over them by others is one of the main reasons why she is so devoted to honoring their service.
“These men are my friends. They are like my brothers. For me to think that anyone could have treated these men terribly and called them names, it breaks my heart,” she told Vietnam magazine.
“I’ve often said, if I hadn’t been so young when the Vietnam War was ending, I would have loved to have been that one person at the airport that welcomed every single one of them home because that’s all they needed. They just needed someone to show that they cared.”
When she and her husband first traveled to Washington, D.C. 11 years ago, the first memorial that Janna wanted to visit was the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. “Even though I never knew anyone killed in Vietnam, I wanted a rubbing of one of the names. I approached the Wall and chose a name—Gregory John Crossman, an MIA.”
Afterwards she pursued research about Crossman and eventually was able to find a photo of him. Two years following her trip to D.C., she saw a story on the local news about the Wall of Faces project and immediately sent in Crossman’s photo. “Five days later I received an email from Jan Scruggs, the founder of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. 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 that it would be an honor.”
Thus began the start of Janna’s research journey. She said the most rewarding thing about her research has been “meeting the Gold Star families and helping them honor their loved one. They’re just so grateful that there’s someone out there who wants to remember their loved one. Many times when I have called, they get very quiet when I first say the name of the fallen. One lady said to me, ‘I have not heard my father’s name in over 40 years.’ It really helps bring some closure to these people in knowing that we want to honor their loved one.”
SEEKING lost faces
Now, more than a decade later, the final goal is within reach. “We need to obtain a photo of every single fallen hero whose name is etched on the Wall. To date we have only 18 more photos to find nationwide.”
Without help from the public, finding the last missing photographs of the fallen will be nearly impossible. The memorial is still missing many faces from Puerto Rico in addition to New York, Michigan and Virginia.
“With your help we could complete this project,” said Janna.
Janna welcomes assistance from members of the public willing to share their memories or who are simply willing to put their research skills to use.
“A lot of times most of the family is gone. Many of the high schools have closed that were in session back in the ‘60s. Many of them had yearbooks, but there were a few that didn’t. There are all kinds of different ways to do research—if we could get a yearbook photo, or if somebody has images of these men in basic training books,” suggested Janna.
“If anyone is a relative, friend or classmate of any of the young men on the list, I would very much appreciate hearing from you,” she said. “If anyone has a photograph of one of these young men or any information, please send it.”
Janna Hoehn gathered the following information from military records and shared it with Vietnam magazine. She welcomes members of the public to submit any photos or information to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Brown, Roger. Jun 13, 1949 – Apr 9, 1969. USA- Private First Class 21st S&S Company, 54th GS Group, Army Support Command Cam Ranh Bay, 1st Logistics Command. Black – Roman Catholic – Single. New York City (born in Brooklyn). The son of Mr & Mrs James S. Jones of 257 Reid Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11233. He attended Franklin H. Lane High School in Brooklyn for two years ending in 1965 but does not appear to have graduated. According to the Bronx School System he attended Herman Ridder Junior HS 1960-62, 1619 Boston Rd, Bronx NY 10460.
- Calhoun, Steven Brian. Feb 12, 1947 – May 18, 1969. USA- Sergeant HHT, 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry, 4ID. Black – Protestant – Single. New York City – Was the son of Mr & Mrs Robert Calhoun, 566 Shepherd Avenue, Brooklyn. He attended East NY High School in Brooklyn and graduated in 1965
- Oyola, Hector David. Apr 13, 1949 – Aug 14, 1970. USA- Private First Class Company B, 3rd Bn, 1st Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. White – Roman Catholic – Single. New York, NY – While he claimed New York, NY as his home, there is no known connection to New York City. His military record states that he attended Juncos High School in Juncos, Puerto Rico but none of the three high schools in Juncos go by that name. His next of kin were Mr. & Mrs. Juan Oyola, Ulb Valencia #16, Juncos, PR. While there is no burial information known about him, it is thought that there may be a street in Juncos named after him.
- Davis, Hugh Mozell. Jan 8, 1927 – June 1, 1968. USA- Staff Sergeant 137th Engineer Company, 19th Engineer Bn, 35th Engineer Group, 18th Engineer Brigade. Black, Baptist and Married. Portsmouth — he attended George Peabody High School in Portsmouth, VA until 1943 but did not graduate and that he earned a GED while in the Army.
- Bermudez-Pacheco, Enrique. Sep 9, 1947 – Aug 9, 1967. USA- Private First Class Company A, 2nd Bn, 2nd Infantry, 1ID. White – Roman Catholic – Single. Bayamon – his parents were Mr & Mrs Gerardo Bermudez, AI 20 Callo Humae, Valla Rica, Bayamon PR 00619. He attended Inter-American University in Bayamon, Puerto Rico earning 12 Credits in 1966.
- Castro-Morales, Ramon. Sep 10, 1947 – Dec 17, 1968. USA- Sergeant HHC, 23rd S&T Bn, Americal Division. White – Roman Catholic – Single. Santurce – his mother was Maria Morales, Edificio 139 Apartment 2566, Llorens Torres, Santurce, PR and his father was Ramon Castro-Aristud, 950 Espioncela Street, Campo Rico Carolina, Rio Piedras, PR. His school was named something like Voc Miguel where he graduated in 1967.
- Diaz-Domenech, Juan A. Oct 30, 1948 – Sep 23, 1969. USA- Corporal, Company B, 2nd Bn, 35th Infantry, 4ID. White – Roman Catholic – Single. Santurce – his parents were Mr & Mrs Tomas Diaz, 829 Condadito Final Cantera, Santurce, PR 00915. He attended Tech & Comm Institute of Puerto Rico, Santurce, Puerto Rico High, completed 1967.
- Gonzalez-Martinez, Angel L. Jan 23, 1947 – Jun 9, 1968. USA- Corporal Company B, 1st Bn, 46th Infantry, 198th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. White – Roman Catholic – Single. Hormigueros – his parents were Mr. & Mrs. Ramon Gonzalez Vargas, Barrio Lavadero #1, Hormigueros PR 00660. He attended Superior Vocational High School in Puerto Rico earning his Diploma in 1966.
- Lopez-Colon, Juan Antonio. May 12, 1942 – Feb 17, 1966. USA- Private First Class, Company A, 2nd Bn, 5th Cavalry, 1CD. White- Unknown Religion – Single. Loiza – his father was Julio Lopez, P.O. Box 254, Yabucos, PR. He appears to have graduated from Lopez High School in 1963 (the guess being that this would be Escuala Carlos Escobar Lopez High School in Canovanas.)
- Maldonado-Aguilar, Benjamin. Oct 27, 1947 – Feb 5, 1969. USA- Specialist Four, Company C, 1st Bn, 12th Cavalry, 1CD. White – Roman Catholic – Single. Mayaguez – his mother was Isabel Aguilar, Carretera 348 Km 0 Hm 8, PO Santa Ana Branch, Mayaguez, PR 00708. His father was Victor Maldonado. He graduated from Hostos High School in 1966.
- Ortiz-Negron, Jose Juan. Oct 4, 1948 – Nov 24, 1968. USA-Private D Troop, 7th Squadron, 1st Cavalry, 1st Aviation Brigade. White – Roman Catholic – Single. Rio Piedras – his father was Hipalito Ortiz-Rodriquez, 22 County Club Road, Rio Piedras, PR 00924 he attended and graduated from Aja Del Caribe High School in Rio Piedras in 1967.
- Ortiz-Rivera, Juan. Jun 24, 1942 – Dec 28, 1967. USA- Private First Class Company D, 52nd Signal Bn, 2nd Signal Group, 1st Signal Brigade. White – Roman Catholic – Married. Bayamon – his parents were Mr & Mrs Juan Ortiz Bergara, 78 Barbosa Street, Bayamon, PR 00619. He attended Agustin Stahl High School in Bayamon, Puerto Rico and graduated in 1962.
- Pagan-Rodriguez, Enangelis. Mar 23, 1945 – Nov 26, 1966. USA- Private First Class 66th Engineer Company, 20th Engineer Brigade. White – Roman Catholic – Single. Guaynabo – buried at the National Cemetery in Bayamon, PR, he attended Miguel Such Vocational School in Rio Pedras from 1962 to 1964.
- Pena-Class, Raul. Jan 5, 1948 – Mar 13, 1968. USA- Specialist Four HHC, 2nd Bn, 5th Cavalry, 1CD. White – Roman Catholic – Single. Rio Piedras — he attended 3 years at the Rio Piedras High School in Puerto Rico, ending in 1966.
- Rodriguez-Cotto, Angel L. Jun 15, 1949 – Jul 30, 1969. USA- Private First Class Company D, 1st Bn, 2nd Infantry, 1ID. Black – Roman Catholic – Married. Rio Piedras – his parents were Mr & Mrs Angel L. Rodriquez-Fortier, 548 Tarragona Street, Urbanizacion La Policia, Rio Piedras, PR 00923. He attended and graduated from Juan Ponce De Leon High School in Hato Rey in 1968.
- Rodriguez-Rivera, Jaime. Aug 27, 1948 – Apr 27, 1970. USA- Private First Class 213th Engineer Detachment, 159th Engineer Group, 20th Engineer Brigade. White – Roman Catholic – Single. Caparra Terrace – he attended Gabriela Mistral High School in San Juan and graduated in 1968.
- Sosa-Hiraldo, Carmelo. Jan 27, 1947 – Aug 24, 1968. USA- Private First Class Company A, 4th Bn, 47th Infantry, 9ID. White – Roman Catholic – Single. Carolina – his mother was Maria Hiraldo-Osorio, Box 1142, Barrio Trujillo Bajo, Carolina, PR 00630. He graduated in 1967 from Miguel Vocational School in Puerto Rico.
- Zayas, Saul. Mar 24, 1949 – Feb 3, 1968. USMC- Private First Class Company M, 3rd Bn, 5th Marines, 3rd Marine Division. White – Catholic – Single. Detroit. No FOIA yet submitted. Connection to Coamo, PR.