- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 23, 2000

VIRGINIA BEACH Dick Gallmeyer punches in a phone number, sits back in his chair in his home office and waits.

Maybe nobody is home. Or perhaps the man he is trying to track down in Pennsylvania no longer lives there.

But Mr. Gallmeyer is in luck.

"Were you in the Korean War?" Mr. Gallmeyer, in a friendly, booming voice, asks the man who answers the phone. "I was there, too."

The men chat a bit about the units in which they served and the injuries they suffered. Then Mr. Gallmeyer gets to the reason he is calling: He promises to send information about the sixth annual national Korean War veterans reunion he is organizing.

The reunion will take place Sept. 15 through Sept. 17 in Norfolk, coinciding with other events being held in the city to commemorate the war that began 50 years ago. Anyone who was on active duty in any branch of the military during the war is welcome to attend.

Mr. Gallmeyer, a retired Army master sergeant, has been making calls like this since about a year before the first reunion, held in 1995.

He is on a mission to find as many surviving Korean War vets as possible. "We're family," said Mr. Gallmeyer, who was a radio operator on the front lines in Korea.

Many persons who were on active duty during the war do not belong to any veterans' organization, making them hard to find all these years later. Still, using old roster lists and military orders sent in by vets nationwide, plus phone directories and the Internet, Mr. Gallmeyer has compiled a computer database of more than 9,600 vets.

As this year's reunion draws near, Mr. Gallmeyer is searching for more vets, mailing out fliers and finalizing event details, all at a frenetic pace.

Previous reunions were held in Virginia Beach. This year, Mr. Gallmeyer moved the event to nearby Norfolk because the U.S. government selected the city home of the Navy's Atlantic Fleet as one of the hosts of events to be held nationwide over three years to commemorate the war.

Mr. Gallmeyer said he is disappointed that the veterans reunion was not mentioned in newspaper advertisements and promotional fliers put out by the city.

"All I wanted to do was notify Korean War veterans all over the United States about what's going on here, which is beneficial to the city of Norfolk," Mr. Gallmeyer said.

"We're still forgotten, even though they're having our 50th anniversary," Mr. Gallmeyer said of the veterans who came home from the war to no parades and no public thank-yous.

"It's going to be OK, but we had to do it ourselves," Mr. Gallmeyer added.

The reunion is important but is just one component of the commemoration being planned by the city and the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Foundation, said retired Marine Col. William J. Davis, executive director of the city-owned MacArthur Memorial, where the general is entombed.

Col. Davis said that the reunion is being independently organized, and that other military reunions also will be held that weekend.

"What I'm trying to do is publicize the three days of the overall event," Col. Davis said. "The commemoration includes not only veterans but also hopefully the general public as a means to honor these veterans."

The Norfolk events will include a prisoners-of-war/missing-in-action remembrance at the MacArthur Memorial and a re-enactment at the Norfolk Naval Station of the surprise landing that U.S. troops, led by MacArthur, made at Inchon on Sept. 15, 1950. The landing changed the course of the war in the Allies' favor.

Next year, with no such events being planned in Norfolk, Mr. Gallmeyer intends to hold two reunions for Korean War vets: one in Las Vegas in July, and one back in Virginia Beach in October.

• Mr. Gallmeyer may be reached at PO Box 8946, Virginia Beach, Va. 23464; 800/523-4715.

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