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Vietnam project seeks to locate images of four Chilton soldiers

By Leisl Lemire | Special to the Advertiser

If you have ever been to Washington, D.C. and put your fingers over a name engraved in the cold marble of the Vietnam Wall, the feeling can be somewhat surreal.

To sweep your vision all the way across, from one end of the wall to the other and try to fathom the cluster of humanity memorialized there, it is somewhat stunning and certainly sobering.

The memorial is there, erected in honor of those brave men and women who gave the most that can be given in service to our country. But what if you could see every face that each name represents?

That is the goal of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Faces of the Wall project. It is a vast undertaking to locate a picture of each and every one of the more than 58,000 servicemen and women who lost their lives.

It is also the goal of some East Alabama high school students to see that Alabama’s 1,210 casualties are also represented there.

It all started with the desire to help students see history from a different perspective; a perspective—that would take them beyond the typical textbook to a one-on-one, up-close and personal encounter with living,breathing legacies.

It was 2014, and Auburn High School AP history teacher Dr. Blake Busbin thought it would be far more beneficial for students to learn about World War II from some of the soldiers who were there.

They interviewed various soldiers, met some of their families and had the opportunity to honor them for their sacrifices. Oral histories were given, turning text-bound students into historians themselves as they interviewed and documented the stories of those who lived them. At that time, the focus was veterans of all wars including modern ones, mainly those who lived in West Georgia and East Alabama, primarily the ones local to Auburn.

But for the 2015-2016 school year, the focus changed to Vietnam Veterans.

This year’s Auburn High School Advanced Placement history class is seeking to put the faces with the names of Alabama Veterans whose names are on the wall.

As of October 2015, the number with pictures still lacking was 674. By December, the students’ research had brought that number down to 641. As they have continued to work, the number as of Jan. 7 was 618.

Four, of Chilton’s 10 casualties are still lacking a picture.

The students are asking for your help in locating anyone with any information that might lead to producing an image of those four individuals. If you grew up here, or have family or friends who might have old high school yearbooks or church directories from that time, your contribution would be greatly appreciated.

The four individuals whose pictures are still needed are: Lee Bearden of Stanton, Leonard O’Neal Chandler of Clanton, Terry Wayne Lovett of Clanton and Charlie Robinson Jr. of Mountain Creek.

If you have information that might help in the search for pictures of these individuals, contact Blake Busbin, Auburn High AP U.S. history teacher, at wbbusbin@auburnschools.org.

Families and friends may also submit photos to the Wall of Faces site by going to www.vvmf.org and clicking the Wall of Faces link. The Wall is searchable by name and, from the advanced search link, veterans can be found by state, county, branch, rank or date of casualty.

“Every picture is one more legacy that is not forgotten,” Busbin said.

The group plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, and they are seeking to interview Vietnam and Vietnam era veterans from Alabama and Georgia. If you are interested in participating or know someone who may be, contact Busbin at the email address above.