For St. Charles Parish, the Wall of Faces represents five Vietnam veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and the people who helped put a face to the conflict that claimed their lives.
Thanks to Janna Hoehn and a multitude of people helping her collect photographs of fallen Vietnam veterans, the parish’s five veterans, as well as thousands more in Louisiana, now have a photograph to remember them online with the digital memorial called Wall of Faces.
“Aloha, I wanted to let you know that the last photo for the state of Louisiana came in today,” said Hoehn, who lives in Hawaii and has been helping with the Wall of Faces Memorial nationally. “We have a photo now of each of our fallen from your state.”
Hoehn is a florist who wanted to help with the project, a decision she made seven years ago.
Some 58,315 photographs were needed when she started. Hoehn, aided by volunteers, has brought that number to 24,091.
“It’s a wonderful project and it makes the families feel so good that someone is willing to work this hard to make sure their family member is remembered,” she said.
For St. Charles Parish, their names were known – Larry Peter Tregre, 21, of Hahnville; Chester Joseph C. Fontenot, 21, of Luling, Eric L. Griffith of Destrehan, Richard Pollard of New Sarpy, and Warren Brown of Ama.
But not all of them had photographs, which Hoehn vowed to do all possible to get – and she did.
After considerable outreach efforts, Fontenot’s photo came from a family member, a sister heard about her efforts and provided Griffith’s, and getting Brown’s image required submitting a FOIA request to the National Archives.
The Wall of Faces is already succeeding as a digital source to remember these veterans.
Pollard’s remembrances include posts saying he earned the title of U.S. Marine on Sept. 19, 1968, and was buried in St. Rose Cemetery.
Tregre was remembered by a “Wolfhound Brother” of the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry (Wolfhounds) who recounted the battle in which he died. Tregre was buried in Holy Savior Mausoleum in Luling.
Fontenot was remembered as “a wonderful guy” by Roy Montz. “We had some great times in elementary and high school. Best buds, I’d say. I read that he was a ‘corpsman’ and died helping a wounded Marine … and he’ll always be a hero.” He is buried at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Ville Platte.
Griffith’s remembered by Gene and Gwen Belanger, who state they went to the wall and saw his name. He is buried at Chalmette National Cemetery.
Overall, Hoehn said it took her 18 months to complete Louisiana, which wasn’t easy with Hurricane Katrina having destroyed records in New Orleans.
“When I first started the project and working on New Orleans, I got really discouraged because when I found a family member they would say they lost everything in Katrina,” she said.
It left her wondering how she could find the photographs, but then newspapers helped get the word out and emails started coming from classmates who left the area before the hurricane hit. They provided images from yearbooks.
“Little by little, I got it done,” Hoehn said. “Of all the states I’ve worked on, I think I’m most proud of Louisiana because I truly didn’t think I could finish it. Katrina really destroyed everything.”
Hoehn reflected on welcoming the opportunity of putting the faces to the Vietnam Conflict.
“I’ve pretty much dedicated my life to it,” she said. “This has been the most awesome journey I’ve been on.”