Six years ago, my husband and I made our first trip to Washington, D.C. Because Vietnam was the war that was going on while I was in high school, the first memorial on my list was the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. Even though I never knew anyone killed in Vietnam, I wanted a rubbing of one of the names. I approached the wall and chose a name, Gregory John Crossman, an MIA.
When I returned home, I decided to research Gregory and try to find his family. In the event that they were never able to go to the wall, I would send them the etching, hoping they would share a photo of Gregory with me. Off and on for six months, I researched every way possible and never found any family. I was quite disappointed; however, I had one more possibility: my cousin, our family historian. Six weeks later, she found a college photo of Gregory.
Two years later, I saw a story on our local news about the “Faces Never Forgotten” for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. The goal was to put a face with every name that is etched on the wall. I immediately sent in the photo I had of Gregory Crossman. Five days later, I received an email from Jan Scruggs, the founder and president of the Vietnam Wall. It was the first for this hero and he asked me if I could help him find the photos for the 42 Maui County fallen.
I have always hoped I could to do something for the Vietnam veterans as the way they were treated when they returned was disgraceful. Here was my chance. What I thought would be a very easy project with Maui being so small was anything but easy. I started by combing the phone books, calling every like name of each soldier. I found about 10 of them this way, then off to archived yearbooks for every high school on Maui, I found a few more, then to the library to look for obituaries, I found three more.
I then went to the Maui News; they printed a beautiful front page article about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and the Education Center. I started receiving calls from all over the United States sending me photos.
I have been very involved in trying to locate photos of the Native American soldiers, which brought me to start searching for all soldiers in California. Over 190 newspapers have run the story across the country. The response has been amazing. I have collected over 1,400 photos since May 2013.
All of these photos will be submitted to the “Wall of Faces” online memorial with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, as well as the future education center that will be adjacent to the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C.
My plea is this: If anyone is related, a friend or a classmate to Dennis Ray McCoy, I would very much appreciate hearing from you.
Please submit any photos or information to Janna Hoehn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dennis Ray McCoy was a Grand County resident and U.S. Marine who is honored on a panel of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. He died on May 3, 1968 – just four days before his 20th birthday.