As we ready to observe Veterans Day Saturday, we're happy to report that our community's mission to put a face to a name for every local soldier lost to the Vietnam War is tantalizingly close to completion.
Thanks to the efforts of relatives, readers, veterans groups, librarians and others, photographs have been found for most of the more than four dozen fallen Vietnam veterans from Rock Island, Henry, Mercer and Whiteside counties who had gone missing from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund virtual Wall of Faces.
But we can't and won't say, "mission accomplished," until we find photos for the last three missing local vets. So once again we're asking resourceful, caring readers to join others who have gone the extra mile to honor these heroes.
Take, for example, Erie High School graduate Larry Steele and his wife Meg. The East Moline couple not only provided us with a yearbook picture of John M. Smith of Albany to add to the wall, they helped us locate family members, and we're hoping to add additional photos to help tell more of his story.
Every veteran who appears on the wall is more than a name. All have a story to tell. It is our duty to honor their lives and to remember their sacrifice on Veterans Day and throughout the year.
We suspect many of our readers haven't had the opportunity to visit the Vietnam Veteran's Wall in Washington, or catch traveling versions which stopped in our community.
The virtual wall offers a good substitute. It's impossible to view even a fraction of the 52,000 photos already collected there and not be moved by the enormity of our nation's and their sacrifice in southeast Asia.
Jan C. Scruggs, founder and president of VVMF said three years ago, “These men were real people, who had dreams and aspirations just like the rest of us. When you look at them you can truly humanize what The Wall represents.”
With the finish line in sight, please take a close look at the updated list of still-missing faces. Perhaps you or someone you know has a photo to share. Perhaps, like Mr. Steele, you went to school with one of these fallen heroes and can help us locate a family member, neighbor or former classmate.
Still missing are:
-- Army PFC Wayne Morris Lenderman of Rock Island was born March 28, 1951. He died Oct. 12, 1969 in Binh Dinh province. According to a post on the site, he is buried at Restlawn Memorial Park, Wausau, WI.
-- Army PFC Leroy Alphus Rost of Moline was born Nov. 11, 1948. He died Nov. 13, 1967 in Kontum Pronvince. According to a post on the site, he is buried at Highland Cemetery, Waynesboro in Wayne County, Tenn.
-- Marine PFC Lawrence Edward Howard of Morrison was born July 31, 1947. He died Sept. 16, 1967 in Quang Nam province. According to an undated and uncredited newspaper clipping posted to website, he was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward R. Howard, Route 1, Morrison.
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