In 2014, Andrew Johnson, publisher of the (Mayville) Dodge County Pionier, the Campbellsport News and the Kewaskum Statesman, contacted the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 1980 to fund and build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. He’d heard about its Wall of Faces campaign to find a photo for each of the 58,276 names inscribed on The Wall, and he wanted to help find missing photos for Wisconsin veterans.
The issue was personal to Johnson. Just two years prior, his son, David, was killed while on duty in Afghanistan.
A year later, following Johnson’s efforts to mobilize newspapers around the state, the last missing photo of a Wisconsin veteran was found.
But Johnson wasn’t just working to find Wisconsin’s photos. While he was spreading the word in his home state, he was also encouraging the National Newspaper Association Board of Directors, on which he served, to adopt the cause.
In 2014, the NNA Board voted to support the project by coordinating efforts with state and regional press associations. At the time, there were more than 24,000 missing photos.
Johnson, who served as the 2018-19 NNA President, has been working with newspapers ever since to make sure there’s a face for every name on The Wall.
“Newspapers across the country joined the effort to find the photos,” Johnson wrote in a column earlier this year. “In most cases, the local paper would list the names of service members who were missing a photo; then community residents would bring photos to the paper.
“Many state newspaper associations helped by facilitating the effort to get the names of the missing to the right newspapers. For difficult-to-find photos, instructors and students from journalism schools across the country have helped find photos (even photos for other states).”
Five years later, there are only 393 photos left to find.
Organizations across the country, like the NNA and Newspaper Association Managers, continue to help in the effort to make sure photos for every veteran are found.
“One of the greatest ways we can honor veterans is to recognize their work and sacrifice,” Johnson said. “Let’s finish this project for Veteran’s Day for our nation’s Vietnam heroes.”
Missing photos can be found at http://www.vvmf.org/missing-photos or by going to http://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces, clicking on Advanced Search, choosing preferred filters, and clicking the box “Does Not Have Photo.”
The public can upload photos directly to the VVMF website or can email the VVMF directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 202-765-3774.