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Photos of five Whatcom County soldiers who died in Vietnam War sought for ‘Wall of Faces’

J. Manuel Reta served in Vietnam with the U.S. Army for seven months before he was wounded. In the picture, Reta, 19, stands near the boundary between North and South Vietnam. Reta, of Ferndale, is now president of the Northwest Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and a commissioner with the state Commission on Hispanic Affairs.
J. Manuel Reta served in Vietnam with the U.S. Army for seven months before he was wounded. In the picture, Reta, 19, stands near the boundary between North and South Vietnam. Reta, of Ferndale, is now president of the Northwest Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and a commissioner with the state Commission on Hispanic Affairs. COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial — the “Wall” — in Washington, D.C., lists the names of 58,300 men and women who died or became missing in action during the Vietnam War. Twenty-five of them are from Whatcom County.

An effort is underway to collect photographs of all of the servicemen and women listed on the memorial’s black granite panels. The photographs are being added to an online “Wall of Faces,” and will be preserved and shown at an education center to be built near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The center is a project of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, which built the wall. So far, nearly 38,000 photographs have been located.

Janna Hoehn of Hawaii is a volunteer searching for photographs of every Washington state veteran on the wall. She is spreading the word anyway she can, because the veterans’ family members are aging, making it harder to track down the veterans’ photographs.

“We’re losing family members on a daily basis,” she said. “Those photos are starting to disappear.”

Hoehn said photographs have been found for 20 of the 25 Whatcom veterans on the wall. She hopes people can come forward with photographs of the other five:

• Dewain V. Dubb of Bellingham; born 1947, died 1967;



• Robert B. Hemnes of Ferndale; 1943 to 1966;



• Duane A. Likkel of Everson; 1947 to 1968;



• James J. Quinn III of Bellingham; 1950 to 1970;



• Kurt L. Starkey of Bellingham; 1942 to 1969.



Hoehn hopes family members or friends can send copies of good-quality photographs of the five, such as military photos, high school photos, prom photos or wedding photos.

Yearbook and obituary photos are acceptable, but aren’t preferred because they don’t enlarge well, she said. That’s important, Hoehn said, because once the education center is built, enlarged versions of the photographs will be put on display on each soldier’s birth date.

People can submit up to six photos of a veteran. If they send a group photo that includes the veteran, the group photo will be preserved along with a cropped portion showing the veteran. All photos should be in JPG format.

Photos should be emailed to Hoehn. Be sure to include the veteran’s name in the email’s subject box.

Family members are also welcome to submit information about the veteran, including a “remembrance” statement about them.

“They were special to someone,” Hoehn said. “It makes them real.”

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