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American Legion seeks photos of county’s servicemen killed in Vietnam

The local American Legion is working to collect photos of the 13 Unicoi County men killed during service in Vietnam for use in a special display planned in Washington, D.C.
Lou Thornberry, a member of Unaka Post 25 in Erwin, said the American Legion has already secured or has provisions to secure seven of the 13 needed photos – those of Richard Bannister, David Edney, Bobby Haynes, Doyle Holcomb, Douglas Jones, Bobby Shelton and Eugene Wilson.
But the American Legion still needs photos of six other servicemen: Jay Britt, Donald Cook, Donald Grubb, Johnny Ogle, Michael Tolley and Allen White. The Legion would prefer a military photo, if possible.
The collection is part of a nationwide project, Thornberry said.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is gathering photographs of the more than 58,261 men and women listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. Once collected, the photos will be displayed in a planned Educational Center adjacent to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.
Plans are to showcase a larger-than-life wall of photos of all veterans on their birthdays. The Memorial Fund also is conducting a campaign to raise $85 million to build an underground visitors center at the Memorial.
Various patriotic groups in Tennessee – like the Legion’s Unaka Post 25 in Erwin – are now engaged in the campaign to secure more than 1,300 photos of Tennessee soldiers who are listed on “The Wall” for a project called “Faces With Names.”
Charles King, who serves as adjutant for the local American Legion, said the addition to the D.C. memorial will further illustrate the importance of honoring those who have served in the nation’s military – in particular, those who gave their life.
“This will be a much more personal thing,” King said. “It’s important that we continue to remember the veterans and the ones who have died in service.”
King, who served in the Korean War, said he knew two of the 13 Unicoi Countians – Bannister and Jones – who died in the Vietnam conflict. He’s hopeful the American Legion will be able to collect all the photos.
“I think people will come forward, so we can get all the photos sent to the Memorial,” he said.
In addition to the D.C. exhibit, the collected photos of the Tennessee soldiers will also be sent to the Tennessee Archives in Nashville. The groups involved hope to make Tennessee the first state to complete the nationwide project.
If anyone has a photo of the six men whose photos are still needed or might have information on how to contact someone who may have a photo, call Thornberry at 743-3323 or King at 743-6996. For more information on the Washington, D.C., display, go to