Honor Them: Vietnam Era Veteran Finds More Than 800 Photos Of Fallen Comrades
David Hine is a Vietnam era veteran devoting his retirement to preserving the legacies of those who died in the Vietnam War.
For the past four and a half years, David has spent his time searching for the photos of fallen veterans. In doing so, he is bringing their stories to life – all from his hometown in Greenfield, Indiana.
The photos he collects are part of VVMF’s Wall of Faces campaign, an effort to put a face with the more than 58,000 names on The Wall in Washington, D.C. Two of the names on The Wall were his high school classmates.
Every photo he collects is see on VVMF’s Wall of Faces.
A 20 year career veteran, David enlisted in the Air Force in March 1970. During his time in the Air Force, he was assigned to England, Virginia, and Hawaii. He retired as a Senior Master Sergeant in 1990. While he did not go to Vietnam, it is of the utmost importance that he honor those lost in his generation’s war.
In 2011, he submitted his first photo to VVMF. He has since made a diligent effort to ensure the 1,530 fallen service members from Indiana have a photo.
To date, he has helped locate about 500 photos of Indiana casualties, and 300 photos for other states and territories.
His efforts have even made a national splash, leading to a Fox & Friends interview.
David’s research takes him to local libraries, where he explores articles and newspaper clippings. He rummages through old yearbooks, speaks to families, and promotes his project on a Facebook page dedicated to his effort.
However, some photos are harder to recover. They can be destroyed or lost over time.
SP4 James Warren, who was KIA in 1967, has one photo on his Wall of Faces page. The photo was submitted by his wife Carol. Years before, her house burned down. The only items that survived were her wedding photo to James and the flag draped over his coffin. The wedding photo “may be the only photo that will be submitted to James’ webpage,” David said.
But no matter how difficult the photos are to find, “every photo tells a small story about those we lost, and those memories and stories need to be told.”
David has spoken to more than 500 friends and relatives and keeps in contact with volunteers across the country. And while he’s had his share of amazing moments, finding the photo for SP4 George L. Tataryn stands outs.
George fell in 1968 in the Gia Dinh province of Vietnam. He left behind a son, Tony. Tony never knew his biological father until more than two decades after his father’s death. David contacted George’s daughter-in-law, Leslie, after she posted a remembrance for him on VVMF’s Wall of Faces page years earlier, asking if she could provide a photo. Surprisingly, he came to find that the family had never seen a photo of George.
With a little digging and the help of online resources, David was able to obtain George’s senior photo.
Once the family received it, they were ecstatic. Leslie exclaimed,”My husband looks exactly like George… Oh, my gosh!”
David was able to “provide Tony, Leslie and their daughters the first photos they had ever seen,” and describes the moment as the “most memorable story of this journey so far.”
David doesn’t collect photos for the recognition however. He truly believes in honoring those who selflessly gave their lives.
Time will tell how many more veterans will be remembered for generations to come because of people like David.
He says, “in my case specifically, I did not go to Vietnam…so it is the absolute least I can do.”