- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 12, 2005

VIRGINIA BEACH — The past decade contained a dark time for Richard R. Gallmeyer — he had a cerebral hemorrhage, then two major surgeries. While he was in the hospital, he got out photographs from his service in the Korean War.

“I used to look at them and I’d start thinking, ‘You know what, when I get out of here I want to find my buddies,’” Mr. Gallmeyer says.

After that period in 1994, Mr. Gallmeyer did more than write down a few names and addresses.

He developed a computerized registry that has helped more than 28,000 veterans of Korea reach comrades.

Mr. Gallmeyer, 74, sits at a computer in his ranch home and scrolls through the thousands of names, addresses and military units.

“Somebody says, ‘You got any veterans from El Paso?’” he says, deftly moving his cursor to the “E’s.” “I’ve got all their addresses, what unit — 2nd Division, 15th Field. I have access to everything.”

One day last week he received eight letters, three e-mails and a phone call from veterans — before noon.

Mr. Gallmeyer started his list with men whose photographs he had. After he found them, he began to get requests from other veterans looking for war buddies. He heard from those men, and from their friends.

His list is gold to the septuagenarians who fought in Korea and were sent home with no way to reach their comrades, said Mr. Gallmeyer, who, with his close-cropped silver hair, still looks like a military man.

The service branches keep records, but many veterans don’t know how to access them, said Arthur Sharp of Rocky Hill, Conn., editor of the Korean War Veterans Association magazine Graybeards. Plus, he said, a number of records burned in the 1970s in St. Louis.

Mr. Gallmeyer has listings for more than 28,000 of about 6 million U.S. service members on active duty from 1950 to 1953 during the Korean War.

“What makes me so happy now is people are calling up,” said Mr. Gallmeyer, whose home telephone has a toll-free 800 number. “I’m mailing them lists. Some of them call back.”

It is music to Mr. Gallmeyer’s ears when he hears, “‘I talked to a buddy of mine I’ve been looking for for 50 years.’”

The music is especially sweet because Korea often is called the “forgotten war,” sandwiched between World War II and Vietnam.

To help his brethren feel remembered, Mr. Gallmeyer organizes a reunion every year.

Nearly 1,000 people showed up for the first reunion in Virginia Beach in 1995. Now it is held annually in Laughlin, Nev., at a hotel with a military museum and programs for veterans.

Other veterans help out. Donald Sutherland of Cathedral City, Calif., loads his sport utility vehicle with lists of veterans, old photographs and other memorabilia to bring to the reunion.

Mr. Sutherland got involved after he received a notice in the mid-1990s that the alumni association at his Los Angeles-area high school would create plaques for former students killed in World War II and Vietnam but not for those who died in Korea. “That sent my red flags up like you wouldn’t believe,” said Mr. Sutherland, who served with the Army in Korea.

Before the first reunion, Mr. Gallmeyer had fewer than 3,000 names.

“But every day, seven days a week since then, I’ve been putting more and more” in the computer, he said.

The printouts of names and addresses are cross-referenced with listings by military unit for veterans who might have forgotten their buddies’ names but know their unit, Mr. Sutherland said.

“This goes on and on,” Mr. Gallmeyer said, his eyes twinkling, “but it’s what keeps me going.”


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