The Volunteers behind The Wall of Faces – Steve Delp
VVMF recently announced that at least one photo had been found for each of the 58,281 service members listed on The Wall. This effort was completed for dozens of dedicated volunteers across the country. Over the next seven days, we’re highlighting the stories of some of these volunteers in their own words about what it meant for them to take part in this effort. Today we highlight: Steve Delp
My journey with the Wall of Faces
By Steve Delp
I joined Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) in 2012. There were several things getting me interested in joining VVMF. First was that I had served in Vietnam with the 4th Infantry Division, and additionally was my military career as the Army’s first Korean Foreign Area Officer (FAO). I lived and worked in Korea for some six years and continued being involved in Korea after retiring in 1989.
My wife Annie and I soon began representing VVMF at unit reunions and conferences. They represent such organizations as Army and Marine divisions, Navy ships, Air Force pilot units and military “friendship” organizations. Most of the attendees were Vietnam veterans and their families. And many were wondering if we had a picture of their friends or unit buddies. During 2013 we had some 30,000 pictures of the 58,000+ names on The Wall early in the year, going to some 38,000 by August. Many of those organizations, and many others across the nation became very interested in gathering the missing pictures and providing them to VVMF.
Shortly thereafter, Annie and I took on the mission of obtaining those pictures, cleaning them up, and adding them to the Wall of Faces. Many of the organizations took this as their main mission, collecting and forwarding them on a monthly, weekly, or even a daily basis. My job was to keep the mission going and provide VVMF with a growing and accurate list of those pictures. So many folks in so many organizations were working with us that the list of missing photos decreased to 14,000 in 2015, 10,000 in September 2016, and 5,637 on August 1, 2017. Since then, VVMF and its partners have taken the list of missing photos down to zero. Way to go Gang!
There were so many wonderful experiences while adding to the Wall of Faces, but one just sticks with me today. I believe it was during the 4th Infantry Division 2014 Reunion that a small New Testament bible was left at our small reunion booth. It was signed by a Johnny L. Perkins, and dated Nov. 29, 1965. On the same two front pages were 30 other names, some with dates alongside. It did not take long for the VVMF and 4ID to identify most of the names as KIA in Vietnam in late 1966 and early 1967. Yes, 25 of the 30 names were KIA, and all of those were 4ID. Then, of course, picture gathering took place. In a short time, we had pictures for 13 of the 25. By June 2016, we had added five more. And now all 25 have at least one good picture! As for Johnny, we cannot confirm who he was, but a young man with his name and appropriate age was killed in a vehicle accident in 1977 in his home area of Houston, TX. Unfortunately, we have not been able to take the “Johnny story” any further, but we are pleased to have had a part in it. And the bible still looks to return home. If you were familiar with Johnny or the 4ID members, please let us know. Best to you all.