Korean War veterans form own organization

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

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Some 60 years after fighting the Korean War, local veterans have formed an organization that specifically recognizes the conflict and their service in it.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Harold Olson, the first vice commander of the newly formed chapter.

“We’re not looking for recognition,” Olson said, but the chapter can provide camaraderie for veterans. The chapter also is a way for vets to connect with people who know about accessing veterans’ benefits.

“We’ve always thought that it was the forgotten war,” Olson said of the conflict, which started on started June 25, 1950; hostilities ended July 27, 1953.

Even when troops were in the middle of the war, they often felt overlooked with a supply system did not match the challenge, Olson said.

“Clothing was inadequate,” said Olson, a Navy veteran who was attached to a Marine unit. “I don’t think I had a warm moment.”

The national Korean War Veterans Association includes a history link showing how the U.S. Army scrambled to gear up for war. One “battalion was so short of tanks that those on concrete pedestals as monuments around Fort Knox had to be taken down and made operational by installing engines, transmissions, and other equipment.”

The local organization’s first meeting drew more than 100 veterans, Olson said. The group organized as the Richard L. Quatier Chapter Korean War Veterans Association of Southwest Washington.

Quatier, a Korean War veteran, died in September. Quatier’s older brother, Robert, is still listed as missing in action in Korea.

Jerry Keesee, the group’s commander, said he and Quatier came up with the idea for the chapter after an August recognition event. About 120 former service members received medals in a ceremony held in conjunction with the Korean Society of Vancouver and a South Korean consulate official.

The group meets each month on the third Wednesday at 10 a.m. in the Boxcar Room at the 40 et 8 Chateau, 7607 N.E. 26th Ave. in Hazel Dell.

For information, contact Keesee at 360-573-1035 or email at saverflag@yahoo.com.

Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558; http://www.twitter.com/col_history;tom.vogt@columbian.com.