Wailea woman speaks at Memorial Day event

Janna Hoehn of Wailea, who is leading the effort to have photos of the 42 Maui County men who died in the Vietnam War placed in an educational center in Washington, D.C., spoke at a Memorial Day event last month at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the nation’s capital.

About 2,000 people attended the one-hour ceremony presented by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, which is working to add a “Faces Never Forgotten-Wall of Faces” museum in Washington, D.C.

“One of the greatest honors of my life,” Hoehn said in an email of the invitation to speak.

She was invited to the event by the founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Jan Scruggs. Hoehn has been raising funds for the nonprofit organization for the education center.

She committed to raising $42,000, $1,000 for every Vietnam War casualty in the county. Hoehn said she met that goal in April.

Hoehn said she has taken on the task of finding California war dead as well and has collected almost 700 photos in the past year.

In her speech, Hoehn told of how she was contacted by Scruggs after sending her a photo of a Vietnam War casualty. Scruggs asked her if she would volunteer and help find photos of the Maui County men who died in the war for the Faces Never Forgotten-Wall of Faces exhibit. It would put faces to the names etched in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

“What I thought would be a very easy project was not. . . . However, I marched on until I found all 42 of the Maui County fallen heroes. Meeting the families of the fallen, the veteran community of Maui, friends and classmates of these brave young men has enriched my life beyond words,” she said in her speech.

She talked about meeting the family of the county’s first casualty, Walter Rickard, and of placing letters on the graves of four soldiers, whom she could not locate, and receiving responses from families of three of them.

“How do you begin to repay the sacrifices our soldiers make in time of war? By remembering and paying respect to each and every one of them,” she said. “This is why the Education Center is so important to me. Putting a face to a name changes the whole dynamic of the Wall. Reading their stories, seeing their faces, meeting the families of the Maui fallen have made them real for me.

“They are not just a name, as they are someone’s loved one who made the supreme sacrifice for us. Husband, father, brother, son, uncle or cousin; they deserve to be honored and deserve to be remembered.”