Teacher seeking help with Vietnam veterans project

Photo courtesy of the city of Dearborn

The Dearborn Allied War Veterans Council, represented by Cmdr. Craig Tillman (right), is partnering with Edsel Ford High School teacher Lisa Lark to give special honor to the men from Dearborn who died in the Vietnam War. Lark is spearheading a historical project.

DEARBORN – The city lost 70 soldiers in the Vietnam War, most of them fresh-faced young men just out of high school.

While it has historical archives on those soldiers, much information still must be found.

Lisa Lark, an English teacher at Edsel Ford High School, has been working since June to compile a history of Dearborn’s Vietnam veterans lost while serving our country.

She has partnered with the city and the Dearborn Allied War Veterans on the project so that the men will be honored during the Memorial Day Parade.

Lark has contacted many of the families of the soldiers who died. Though she has made progress, her search is part of an ongoing process. She is asking for help from the public, hoping they will share their stories about the men who died, or assist her with contact information for the families.

The project came about because Edsel Ford holds a Memorial Day ceremony every year in honor of the 23 Vietnam veterans from the school who died, and curious students began asking Lark, who used to teach social studies, about the men.

She originally planned on looking specifically at former Edsel Ford students but said, “There were so many fascinating stories about students from the other schools that I them all.”

Lark is being helped with the project by a student intern, as well as another interested student who is the niece of one of the soldiers.

She also has received help from veterans and their family members from all over the country, as well as her own family and friends.

“I have been most touched by the families’ willingness to share their stories with me,” Lark said. “They have been so helpful in allowing me to understand who their sons and brothers and husbands were. They have shared photos and letters and tears with me. It has been very humbling.”

She is asking for people who knew these soldiers or their families to contact her so that they can be honored through this project.

“Whether they knew these men well or just sat near them in school, every bit of information will help us to tell their stories,” Lark said. “I am also looking for information on where families may have moved to, so I encourage people to get in touch even if they only knew a parent or sibling after the Vietnam Era.

“Every little bit helps.”

Dearborn Allied War Veterans Council Cmdr. Craig Tillman, a Vietnam veteran, said the DAWVC fully supports the project. The council already had chosen the theme of the 2011 Memorial Day Parade to be in honor of Vietnam veterans, and is grateful that Lark’s work will enhance the tribute.

“We appreciate Lisa’s dedication to honoring the men from Dearborn who died in service to our country during the Vietnam War,” Tillman said. “Her project really hits home and personalizes Dearborn’s losses. It will add meaning to the day for all those attending, as she turns faceless numbers into real people.”

Lark has compiled a list of Dearborn’s 70 Vietnam casualties:

Richard M. Anderson, David Antol, Tommie Ray Angel, Edwin Bird, Robert Bonnici, Raymond Borowski, David Brannon, James Brock, David A. Brown, Jerry Clark.

John Cochrane, Thomas Daily, James L. Davis, Randy Dillinder, Jay Cee Dyer, Michael Dziengowski, Paul Elwart, Gerald Emmons, James Fleming, Roger Foxworth.

Henry Fugett, Larry Gambotto, Philip Gandolfo, Thomas Gentinne, Franklin Germany, Charles Hanselman, Rodney Harla, James Hath, James Hintz, Alan Hosnedle.

James Huard, Rudolph Jackymack, Alan Kaartunen, Charles Karr, David Kowitz, Bradley Logan, Cecil McCann, Louis McCormick, Douglas McIlroy, Robert McKenna.

James Morrow, Ralph Mueller, Thomas Naughton Jr., John Navarre, Michael Niezgoda, Robert Nozewski, Richard Paton, James Patterson, Michael Patterson, William Pearce IV.

Wilbert Pennell, Mark Pietrzyk, Bruce Reynolds, Mark Robertson, Donald Rowley, William Schmaltz, George Siegwald II, David L. Smith, Earl R. Smith, Ronald C. Smith.

Stuart Snell, Dennis Stancroff, James Stubblefield, David Terwilliger, Gary Tinker, Charles Trescott, Michael Troyan, John C. Wells and Robert “Chip” Yokom Jr.

Anyone with information or willing to provide assistance is asked to call Lark at (313) 410-8477or e-mail dearbornsvietnam@gmail.com.

For more information on the project search for the Facebook group Dearborn’s Vietnam Heroes.