Anthony Cadwell was born in Missoula in 1947 and died in the Quang Tin Province of Vietnam 20 years later. His name appears on panel 28E, row 19 of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C.
The museum is planned between the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and, when it opens, it will provide a face with the names of the 58,300 U.S. service members who died in the conflict.
“I’ve always hoped I could do something for the Vietnam veterans,” said Janna Hoehn, who’s helping Jan Scruggs, founder and president of the Vietnam Wall, track down the missing photos. “Our goal is to put a face with every name that’s etched on that wall.”
In western Montana, at least, Hoehn is hoping to locate 10 photos from Lake County, three from Ravalli and two from Sanders County. Two photos are missing from Flathead County’s fallen, and nine from 22 who fell from Missoula County.
“I’m working on the entire state,” said Hoehn. “In Montana, 266 people died in Vietnam and we’re down to needing only 83 photos to complete the entire state.”
For most of the soldiers, the photos were provided long ago by family members and friends. But some slipped through the cracks for whatever reason, and not all of the fallen have surviving family members to provide the images.
Hoehn, who now lives in Maui, was in high school in California for much of Vietnam. Six years ago, she visited the Vietnam Memorial and was moved by the monument and what it stands for.
She never knew anyone who died in the war, so she chose a name at random. It was Gregory. J. Crossman.
“When I returned home, I decided to research (Crossman) and try to find his family,” said Hoehn. “I wasn’t thinking he’d died 40 years ago, and I suddenly realized that maybe his parents aren’t alive any more.”
Hoehn’s assumptions were correct, but the mystery of who Crossman was didn’t fade. While she never did find any Crossman family members, Hoehn’s cousin succeeded in locating a photo of the young soldier in a college yearbook.
Two years passed before Hoehn saw a story on the Maui news regarding Faces Never Forgotten for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. The story prompted her to action, and one thing turned into another.
“I could hardly get to the copy place quick enough,” Hoehn said. “I immediately sent in the photo I had of (Crossman).”
The response came just as quick from the other end. Within days, Hoehn received an email from Scruggs, who said the photo she’d sent of Crossman had been needed.
Scruggs also asked Hoehn to help track down 42 photos for Maui County soldiers missing from the project. She was up for the task and then some.
“It was the perfect time in my life,” Hoehn said. “I had the time to do it, and when I set out to do something, I don’t let anything get in my way.”
Hoehn located the 42 missing Maui photos within six months. She soon expanded her efforts to California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho, getting the story published in 94 different newspapers.
Now she’s on to Montana.
“Just from these newspaper articles, I’ve collected 1,300 photos,” said Hoehn. “We need 58,300 photos from across America, and we have already collected 40,000 of them. As far as Montana goes – for a state as large as you have – we’re doing well.”
Along the way, Hoehn has raised more than $70,000 toward the Education Center at the Wall. The national goal is to raise $1,000 for each name etched on the Vietnam Wall, and amount totaling more than $53 million.
“I’ve received some amazing pictures of these young men,” said Hoehn. “It was so ’60s and some of the photos show it. If we can’t find the families, we have to rely on yearbooks. Most of their parents are gone, and sometimes their siblings, too.”
Hoehn spent nearly two years searching for a photo for a single soldier from Imperial Valley, California. He had seven siblings, but all but one had passed.
In a way, Hoehn confessed, the project is in a race against time.
“The only reason we found his sister is because she was 19 years younger than her brother when he was killed,” Hoehn said. “I’ve got one missing soldier who was born in 1915, and I don’t know if I’ll ever find his photo. He was in World War II, Korea and he died in Vietnam.”
When the new museum opens and a soldier depicted on the Wall of Faces has a birthday, his photo will enlarge from floor to ceiling. It will also include the voices of survivors, artifacts and a history of the county’s path during and after the conflict.
“Vietnam was my entire high school years and it started ending just about the time I graduated,” said Hoehn. “A lot of the guys were coming home and I truly remember how they were treated, and it has always bothered me.”
To contact Hoehn about one of the missing Montana images, email firstname.lastname@example.org.