Can Utahns, LDS Church find photos of Vietnam fallen?
Alice Telford, who lost her husband as a young woman and then their only son, John W. Telford, in Vietnam, teared up as she donated a framed photo of the 20-year-old Marine, taken in Hawaii not long before his death.
"You never really get over it. You try to live with it," said Telford, now 89.
Telford's photo was the first new image of a fallen Utahn donated as part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial's Faces Never Forgotten campaign. It was kicked off in Utah Wednesday by Vietnam veteran Jan Scruggs, founder of Vietnam Veterans Memorial, better known as The Wall.
The photos of Telford and 363 other Utahns lost in the war will be displayed in a planned $85 million Education Center at The Wall if friends and family will donate the pictures, said Scruggs.
The VVMF has usable photos for 157 of Utah's fallen, but lacks photos for 207 others.
While in Utah, he also urged The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to help locate and donate photos of 265 church members from across the country who died in Vietnam. The fund already has photos of 324 LDS service members who died.
"We've got some unfinished business here," said Scruggs. "We can achieve this."
Telford said her only child enlisted right out of high school because it meant he could be a Marine.
"He was such a good kid," said Telford, who had the help of her parents in Kaysville as she raised her son, who was 4 when his dad died.
He graduated from Olympus High School and had just volunteered for second tour when he was killed at Quang Tri near the North Vietnamese border on Aug. 17, 1967.
His mother said her son's job was to scout the enemy and then radio their position to U.S. ships, which would drop bombs. The Vietcong spotted him as he ran back to a cave where he and other Marines were living. He was fatally shot, but the radio he wore on his back protected his body from further damage. "I was very, very lucky to get his body home," she said.
At the event Wednesday, she thanked Scruggs for The Wall and his future plans to display the pictures.
"This just thrills me to no end," said Telford, who lives in Salt Lake City and works full-time at Zions Bank. "What you are doing for these guys they weren't even recognized."
Displays at The Education Center at the Wall, which will be built on land between the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, will revolve around the photos, but it will also include some of the 400,000 pieces of memorabilia left at The Wall over the past three decades.
Photos of those killed in the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are much easier to obtain, also will be shown there until a monument to those war dead is built, said Gen. Jefferson Burton, adjutant general of the Utah National Guard, who appeared at Wednesday's event.
Utah has lost 69 in those wars, the most recent in August 2011.
Utah Rep. Jim Matheson vowed at the event to use social media to urge Utahns to donate photos. Lee Allen, communications director for the VVMF, said the group is looking for histories and stories, too.
"The names on the wall for 30 years have been very powerfulâ¦ but without the context making them come alive as real people."
Now Vietnam veterans are dying at a rate of 400 a day, Allen said.
"As we lose the first-hand accounts and the first-person memories of these who are fallen, there is real danger of these people being lost to history and we don't want to let that happen."
The Faces Never Forgotten campaign has been underway for four years. Some states, Allen said, already have produced photos of all their fallen.
The VVMF's website offers a glimpse of the photos collected so far. Users can go to the "Search the Wall" section of the website, and view any photos or remembrances of the fallen by typing in their names or hometowns.
Many friends and families of Utah's fallen have already done so.
A former classmate of Boyd K. Newbold at Ben Lomond High School in Ogden posted a remembrance, as did a fellow Special Forces soldier who trained with Newbold. "I will never forget him, his wit, determination, skill and desire. Truly a Special Forces Soldier," wrote Jim Blanchard.
Newbold was just 21 when he died in Hua Nghia province of Vietnam in 1969.
Terry Schow, executive director of Utah's Department of Veterans Affairs, said that as photos are donated to the VVMF, the state can get copies for its own Vietnam War monument on the west side of the Capitol.
"Maybe we could build a kiosk with those," he said.
Find a photo?
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is seeking photos and memories of service members who died in Vietnam.
To submit online, follow the uploading directions at http://www.vvmf.org/submit_other.
To provide a photo by mail, print out the photo submission form from that website, and make an 8-by-10-inch copy of the photo at the highest quality possible with a glossy finish. Mail the envelope, noting that a photo is enclosed, to: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Attn: Call for Photos, 2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Suite 104, Washington, D.C. 20037.
More information about how to add a photograph to the collection is available at 202- 393-0090 or via email at email@example.com.
The Salt Lake Tribune also welcomes copies at firstname.lastname@example.org.