WILKES-BARRE — Ned Lynch remembers the last day he saw his brother, John.
It was July 1968, and John was boarding a bus on Public Square shortly after he enlisted in the U.S. Army.
It was the height of the Vietnam War and Lynch would be sent to the jungle soon. John Lynch was killed in Vietnam in June 1969 in a helicopter. The circumstances surrounding his death remain unclear, but Ned said his brother did receive the Bronze Star posthumously.
When Ned Lynch was told about a project called “Call for Photos,” he listened intently.
Jerry Richmond, a Vietnam veteran who came back from the battle in Southeast Asia, has taken on a project that will forever memorialize every soldier who was killed in action in the war.
Richmond, a Dunmore native now living in Tennessee, wants to help update the “Wall of Faces” for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation in Washington, D.C. The foundation is accepting funding and hopes to break ground soon on the education center being built next to the Wall on the Mall that will provide a face and story about each of those who died in the Vietnam War in larger-than-life format.
Richmond said Pennsylvania has 3,142 citizens listed on the Wall, 860 of whom do not have photos to honor their memory.
Luzerne County’s 41
He said Luzerne County currently has 41 of its veterans without photos — John Lynch being one. Richmond’s goal is to have 100 percent of all the state’s Vietnam vets updated to include photos and hopefully more remembrances left on the Virtual Wall in their honor.
Ned Lynch said he would call and email Richmond because he wants his brother to get the recognition he and all Vietnam veterans killed in action deserve.
“They deserve the respect that they didn’t get back then,” Ned said. “It still eats at me.”
Ned Lynch enlisted in the Air Force shortly after John left for the Army. He was stationed in Okinawa and never saw battle in Vietnam. But when Ned returned from his tour, he was shocked at what he found.
“When I returned from Okinawa, I landed at Travis Air Force Base in San Francisco and I was told to change out of my uniform and into civilian clothes,” Lynch said. “They told me not to travel in my uniform because I wouldn’t be treated well.”
Lynch said he still can’t imagine how the veterans returning from Vietnam must have felt when they got back.
“Those were the guys who were in battle, under fire, risking their lives for their country,” he said. “How could they have felt when told to change out of their uniforms?”
‘Call for Photos’
The project — “Call for Photos Hometown Heroes” — is a campaign to collect a photograph for each of the more than 58,000 men and women whose names are inscribed on The Wall. Collected pictures will be used in the education center at The Wall and can also be found on The Wall of Faces.
Richmond said any photos will be accepted, such as a high school yearbook photo or a military photo.
“We want a photo to show that these were real people,” he said. “We want to show who they were. It is extremely important that we never forget those that served, their sacrifice and the impact this war had for generations to come.”
Richmond said any information collected will be used solely for the purpose of updating information for the Vietnam Memorial Education Center being built next to the Vietnam Memorial Wall.
Richmond said the information may be submitted directly to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at http://www.vvmf.org/ or forwarded to him for inclusion.
He said New Mexico is the only state at this time that has 100 percent of their KIA with photos.