40 Iconic Wall of Faces Images
In 2022 – we’re commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Throughout the year, we’re highlighting lists of 40 things related to the Vietnam war/era.
This month, we’ve compiled 40 iconic images from our Wall of Faces:
1LT THOMAS B ADAMS
Remembered by his classmates as “dashingly handsome” and well-liked, he was respected by his troops for doing whatever needed to be done. This photo illustrates the mischievous young man, the lifeguard on Bethany Beach.
CAPT ELEANOR G ALEXANDER
One of the eight women on The Wall, this photo highlights the focus and dedication necessary as an Army nurse.
CPL DENNIS BAGLEY
Bagley was one of the first two black basketball players to be recruited and play for Belmont Abbey College for the 1965-66 season. During his junior season, he was the team’s high scorer and MVP. This photo shows Bagley high above his opponents and the basketball rim.
CAPT WILLIAM J BARTHELMAS JR
Barthelmas is photographed with one of the most iconic mustaches of those on The Wall. A byproduct of the Mustache March within the Air Force that was begun by then-COL Robin Olds in Vietnam, there are a quite a few mustaches on The Wall of Faces, especially amongst the Air Force pilots, but few as great as Barthelmas.
PFC CHARLES M BEAR
Some of those on The Wall fathered children. Some never had a chance to enjoy the moment highlighted in this photo from Bear’s profile.
SP4 ROBERT E BELT
Amongst those photos taken in Vietnam, there is often those that highlight shirtless men, monkeys, puppies, and drinking. In Belt’s photo, we find the joy and mischievous nature the monkeys may have provided.
PFC JOHN C BIONDILLO
Few profiles have as many photos depicting the newly-wedded bliss some of these men experienced. This photo was provided by Biondillo’s widow Joann who wrote, “I still find it hard to accept losing you. You and I had only been married 7 months.”
MAJ SAMUEL R BIRD
Sam Bird was the commanding officer to casket detail for President John F Kennedy. Two iconic photos from the funeral show his role at the head of the casket. MAJ Bird was stationed at Ft. Myer on November 22, 1963 when he got the call to meet Air Force One to receive the body of the President. Except for short breaks, he was with the casket for 3 days through the funeral.
CPT GERALD A BROWN
Vietnam was the “helicopter war” but that didn’t eliminate the need for trucks, jeeps, tanks, planes, or even such strange equipment as the Marine Corps M-50 “Ontos.” Yet few photos are as iconic as the ingenious transportation method used by CPT Brown in this photo.
CPT EDWARD A BRUDNO
This photo documents the return of CPT Brudno from Vietnam in June of 1973 after over 7 years in captivity as a prisoner of war. Unfortunately, shortly after his return, he took his life and the Department of Defense determined his death met criteria for inclusion upon The Wall. His name was engraved in 2004.
PFC DAN BULLOCK
Few realize when looking at the primary photo of SGT Bullock, he was only 14 when the photo was taken. Killed at the age of 15 while in Vietnam, PFC Bullock remains the youngest person on The Wall.
PSGT RUSSELL L CASTLE
One of hundreds of dog handlers in Vietnam, two photos show PSGT Castle with his dog Turk. After being wounded in Vietnam in October 1966, Castle was transferred to Walter Reed hospital to recover. As his health continued to deteriorate, the Army attempted to aid his recovery by sending Turk to the United States. Unfortunately Castle died before Turk arrived.
SSGT WALTER A CICHON
This photo from Cichon’s profile highlights a New Jersey rock band known as The Motifs. Walter Cichon was credited by Bruce Springsteen as “the greatest rock-and-roll front man on the Jersey shore. He was the first real rock star I ever laid my eyes on.”
LCDR PAUL C CHARVET
LCDR Charvet’s remains were provided by the government of Vietnam in 2020. They were identified in 2021. While the first photo below shows the reception of his remains as they were returned to his family in Alaska, the second photo below is a touching moment with his sister Dona Re’ Shute with her right hand resting on the flag covered casket of her brother.
MAJ CLIFTON E CUSHMAN
Several Olympians can be found on The Wall including boxers, race walkers, and track athletes. Cushman is one of the most decorated. After winning the silver medal in the 1960 Olympics in the 400-yard hurdles, it was expected he’d easily qualify in 1964. Unfortunately, at the US Olympic Trials, Cushman tripped over a hurdle and that last photo illustrates that agony. From that agony, Cushman wrote a letter to Grand Forks youth urging them to get up from when they fall. It was reprinted for decades to come in the local paper.
CPL SHERMAN P DAVIS
His high school classmates called him “the best safety to come from E.E. Smith” High School. A “special” and “great” guy known for his white shoes. Like thousands on The Wall, his high school graduation cap photo marks a milestone of his young life. Shortly after graduation, he joined the Army “and he was gone! (I) got several letters from him after his funeral.”
CPL MARION L DIRICKSON
At the age of 18 or 19, with all that was going on in the war, the emotions and free spirit of this photo is incredible. A brief glimpse of the brother, cousin and man known as Lee Boy.
MAJ MORGAN J DONAHUE
This photo was taken from the “Ultimate Spirit Mission” in Mitchell Hall prior to the ’66 Air Force/Navy game. Left to right: Buzz Glade ’68, Morgan Donahue ’67, Dean Burbank ’67. The three took the goat from the Navy dairy farm before the Air Force/Navy football game.
PFC WILLIAM T DORSEY
According to his Silver Star citation, PFC Dorsey died caring for the wounded and attempting to save drowning members of his unit after their small boat hit an enemy mine. Yet this photo from his profile highlights his concern and care for not only his fellow comrades, but also those from Vietnam.
LCPL JULIUS C FOSTER
“Corky,” had previously served in the Marine Corps Reserves while attending college at West Virginia University. Following his graduation in May of 1967, he felt it was necessary to hike the 400 miles from his hometown in Welch, WV to Camp LeJeune, NC to raise awareness for the “no win” and “get out” attitude he saw in society in 1967.
His hike was made “to emphasize the effort being made by other Americans.” He made the ultimate sacrifice with 21 other Marines on Hill 861 near Khe Sanh.
SSGT FALEAGAFULA ILAOA
On May 13, 1975, eighteen USAF Security Police boarded a CH-53 helicopter designated Knife 13. En route on an operation to rescue the crew of the USS Mayaguez, the helicopter crashed and exploded upon impact killing all 22 aboard. SSGT Ilaoa is the leftmost servicemember on the final photograph taken.
COL ARTHUR S MEARNS
Despite having two young daughters to raise, COL Mearns’ widow Pat dedicated her life towards a full accounting for those missing from Vietnam. Her efforts to persuade Congress were so significant, House Armed Services Committee Chairman F Edward Hebert kept a painting of the daughters in his office. The below painting has a handwritten note on the bottom, “My Name is Frances. My daddy is a pilot prisoner in Hanoi. We miss him very much. Please God, bring him home.”
PFC KERRY R GOSSMAN
Kerry’s sister Connie Thiedens shares with us his final letter home in a remembrance left on 6/30/2014. Many shared his feelings that they wouldn’t be coming home. Few images portray the sentiment. In the letter, he writes, “I have a feeling I won’t be coming back alive from Vietnam. . . . Oh well, if I don’t make it, at least I will die for something that I believe in that is democracy and the United States and freedom for the world.”
1LT JAMES R KALSU
1LT Kalsu is shown in a University of Oklahoma uniform, likely the year he was named All-American. His achievements were so great he was drafted onto the Buffalo Bills where he was named their Rookie of the Year. Following that season, he was called to service in Vietnam where he was killed on Firebase Ripcord on July 21, 1970. He is one of the few professional athletes on The Wall.
1LT RONALD W MCLEAN
Several distinctive photos are found in his profile, often more because of the man photographed with McLean. American actor and military pilot Jimmy Stewart, his stepfather married Gloria McLean and adopted her two sons treating them as his own. This photo highlights then retired Brigadier General Stewart pinning 2LT McLean at his commissioning in 1968.
CPL GERALD R OLMSTED
One of three casualties on The Wall from a tiger attack, a remembrance in 2021 was provided by the helicopter crew who evacuated CPL Olmsted’s body and the tiger that had killed him.
A1C WILLIAM H PITSENBARGER
Pitsenbarger’s legacy was highlighted in the movie Last Full Measure. There are quite a few great photos on his profile including one posing with a monkey. Yet the second photo below, shows Pitsenbarger a pararescue crew member eager to leap from a helicopter exemplifies this hero. He would go on to earn the Medal of Honor (posthumously) helping evacuate casualties and wounded during a battle where the US had more than 80% casualties.
WO WILLAM D POTTER
Potter’s nephew writes of his uncle’s joy of life – a hard working athlete who saw the Army as a pathway to learning to fly. He recalls the “pride he had in his 1966 Mustang GT350 Shelby” and the final day he spent with him before Potter left for Vietnam. Seems fitting in this photo, we have Potter standing proudly in his Army uniform beside his prized Shelby.
SP4 THOMAS A POTTHOFF
Our volunteer photo researcher Herb Reckinger writes, “I had been getting photos for a few months at this time. Thomas Potthoff came from the north metro. Thomas’ brother Michael wrote a Remembrance with his email, so I wrote him, explaining the project and asking for a photo. I don’t get one picture. I get two. The second one is definitely not a great quality photo, but it’s one of the most meaningful for me. Upon seeing it, I wonder, who is the little girl- a niece, a sister or possibly a daughter. I just had to know, so I emailed Michael and asked. It was none of them. The little girl is the daughter of Thomas’ fiancé. I was kind of new to picture gathering, but this photo made me feel bad, not just for Thomas, not just for his family, but for the family he could have had. I hope that little girl, someday, got a good Dad. She could have already had one, had Thomas survived. You know that a big part of Vietnam is so much more than the lives lost. It’s the families that never happened and all the old guys that could be sitting around today, retired and with a wife and kids and grandkids. It could have been that way. There is a legacy and lost legacy.”
CPL RAYMOND L POWELL
Raymond Powell wanted to join the Marine Corps, but realized in 1961, at the age of 17, he couldn’t make the minimum weight necessary. “He came back home and he ate candy and gained five pounds,” said his father, the Rev. Warfus Powell. “When he discovered that wasn’t enough, we got a pair of heavy socks and taped them to the inside of his leg. I weighted them with sand. When he got on the scale during the examination, he leaned over as though he had cramps so they couldn’t see the socks. He passed.”
SGT WILLIAM E REED
The average tour of someone in Vietnam would exceed one year. In that year, our servicemembers would celebrate birthdays and holidays away from family and friends. Sometimes small treasures from home might arrive to change a base, a tent, or an office. Other times, when in the jungle that became less possible. In the photo below, you can see Reed’s celebration of Christmas with a handmade stocking far from the normalcy of home.
1LT MARTIN S SCHILLER JR
Schiller’s cousin writes in a remembrance that “Marty” was “the one to follow and we all gladly did so.” He was the “all-city running back every year in high school, football team captain, state track record holder in the 440-dash.” The numerous awards and trophies in the photo and his beaming smile tell of this young man with a quick wit and stellar sense of humor. Schiller attended the University of Missouri on a track scholarship before being commissioned in the Army.
CAPT LANCE P SIJAN
Each of those on The Wall, had mothers, fathers, and many had siblings. This photo from CAPT Sijan’s profile highlights the love and adoration between a brother and sister.
CPL JOSEPH A SILON JR
This photo illustrates that the emotions involved can only be inferred.
CPL DANIEL E SPENCER JR
The below photos were taken in the Long Khanh Province as SP4 Richter waits for a helicopter while CPL Spencer stares at their fallen comrade. The second photo shows the true emotion of the moment. The photo was used in the Ken Burns Vietnam series (https://www.orlandosentinel.com/la-et-st-the-vietnam-war-review-20170916-story.html)
CPL CURTIS E STELZER
Bart Van Valkenburg left a photo he had in his album for over 44 years. With its submittal he writes, “I forget who put the shaving cream on your ear but you laughed along with all the rest of us. You were to nice a person to be in that war; everyone in the squad and platoon liked you from day one not a simple feat back then.”
SP4 KERRY L TAYLOR
Taylor was one of nine who played of those on The Wall who played professional baseball at the Minor League level. Photo #2 is his signed baseball card when he played for the Twins. Shortly after his arrival in the summer of 1969, Taylor wrote to the Twins seeking a few baseballs. Weeks later, they were provided with a large box filled with baseballs, gloves, and bats. Michael Harmonis, a fellow servicemember recalls, “Thereafter when playing “catch” with Kerry on the fire base all of us in the platoon saw Kerry’s talents. I had never before seen anyone who could run, catch and throw like Kerry.”
MAJ LARRY A THORNE
If you were going to fight the Russians and later communism, MAJ Thorne was going to serve beside you. Many photos highlight that role and journey as he fought in three wars. For Finland, during the Winter War against the invading Russians. For Germany during World War II. Finally, immigrating to the United States an serving for the US Army in Vietnam.
CPL JAMES M TRIMBLE
Amongst those photos taken in Vietnam, there is often those that highlight shirtless men, monkeys, puppies, and drinking. In this photo, we see CPL Trimble holding a very young puppy while in Vietnam.
MAJ CHARLES J WATTERS
One of two chaplains who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for their heroism, the below photo was allegedly taken the morning of the battle to take Hill 875 as the troops took communion before the engagement began.
To view more profiles, add photos, or leave remembrances on any of the more than 58,000 men and women on our Wall of Faces, visit https://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces/.