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Latest News

All photos of Escambia County men killed in Vietnam War found for virtual wall

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Mance Brown

 

After more than two years of combing through military databases, school yearbooks, newspaper obituaries and other records, researchers have found a photograph of every Escambia County man killed in the Vietnam War.

Photographs of each of the 92 local men can be found on The Wall of Faces, an online site where people can find information about each of the 58,300 Americans whose names are engraved on the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1063 of The Villages is spearheading the project to find photographs of the 1,957 Floridians killed in the war. With the discovery of a family member's photograph of Pensacola native Mance Brown, the group is down to just eight missing photos statewide.

"Mance Brown was a hard one to find, and it is great to finally be able to honor him," said John Thomstatter, who is coordinating the statewide search.

The photos will eventually become part of a $130 million learning center that will be built next to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

Florida's eight missing photos still include two Marines and six soldiers from Broward, Duval, Miami-Dade, Pinellas and Putnam counties.

Brown was a 37-year-old Army sergeant who died in a mine explosion in Vietnam's Tay Ninh Province on April 30, 1970.

Orlando-area researcher Catherine Haynes found a photograph of Brown after contacting a sister who lives in Michigan. The search for a photograph included reaching out to relatives in Georgia, Texas and Pensacola.

"I used reverse genealogy and I ran across an obituary that had a list of family members, and it was trial and error from there," she said. "It can be like finding a needle in a haystack."

A photograph of Brown was difficult to find because he didn't have any children, he was a career soldier who moved around a lot and he attended segregated schools in Pensacola in the 1930s and 1940s, when the schools were unlikely to have yearbooks.

"Fortunately, he had a sister and she called me back and she had photograph. What we learned was that Mance really was a remarkable young man," she said.

Pensacola researcher Paula Judd has spent months finding information about Brown.

"I feel like I've become an honorary family member," she said.

Judd found two Pensacola News Journal articles and a newspaper photograph of Brown from 1948, when Brown and six other area boys went to Washington for the National Convention of School Boy Patrol. The Pensacola Civitans Club sponsored the trip, which included an appearance by then-President Harry Truman.

According to the news story with the headline "Schoolboy Patrol Group Gets Thrill in Capital," the children attended a vaudeville show and visited Arlington National Cemetery, the Smithsonian Institute and the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials.

Brown enlisted in the Army after high school and served in Korea before serving in Vietnam.

A Sept. 28, 1970, Pensacola News Journal article featured a photo of Brown's mother, Beulah Frison, receiving seven medals awarded posthumously to her son. The medals included the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

After months of researching Brown's life, Judd said it was emotional to finally see a photograph of him.

"Of our Escambia County men, Mance was definitely the hardest to find," she said.

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