An Army veteran from St. Cloud is on a mission to track down the photographs of more than 500 Minnesota service members killed in Vietnam.
Robert Ahles was drafted into the Vietnam War after college. He told the St. Cloud Times that more than 1,000 Minnesotans died during that war, and about half of them don't have their pictures posted on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund website.
Ahles said gathering their photos is the least he can do for his fallen comrades.
"I felt that all the veterans who died over there deserve the same recognition," Ahles said. "When we came back, we were treated poorly ... but people have kind of recognized our service now."
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is working on building an education center near the memorial with the goal of opening in 2014. Each of the 58,000 fallen soldiers listed on the Vietnam memorial wall will be pictured in the center with details about their lives.
Some of the 400,000 mementos left at the memorial wall since it opened in 1982 will be displayed there, including Purple Hearts from both world wars, Korea and Vietnam.
"Internet-based resources will allow the millions of visitors to gain a better understanding and a more complete picture of this important time in history," Ahles said.
Ahles, 66, is working his way through Minnesota's cities and towns to find surviving relatives of the deceased. He's also enlisting the help of local American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts and city officials. He started his volunteer effort in January, and has posted 43 photos to the website as of last week. An additional 25 pictures were posted by others.