Korean War vets to inaugurate local group

All who served in the area or during the conflict are welcome

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

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photoNortheast Hazel Dell: Debbie Quatier, left, presents a military display donated from the Quatier family to Rev. Jerry Keesee, center, and Jack Giesen, treasurer of the Vancouver Barracks Military Association. The military memorabilia is now on display at the Veterans Museum.

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photoRichard Quatier, a Korean War veteran, talks about his brother at a Korean War Memorial ceremony Friday, June 25, 2010, in Vancouver, Wash. Quatier's brother died only weeks into the war and earned a Purple Heart. (The Columbian/Erin Starkebaum)

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A newly formed group of Korean War veterans will hold its first meeting Wednesday in Hazel Dell.

The Vancouver chapter of the Korean War Veterans of America will meet at 10 a.m. in the Boxcar Room at the 40 et 8 Chateau, 7607 N.E. 26th Ave.

Jerry Keesee said he and fellow Korean War veteran Richard Quatier came up with the idea 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.

“Richard and I were very involved in the medal ceremony,” said Keesee, who is affiliated with several veterans organizations and serves as a chaplain for some of them.

“Richard and I discussed starting a chapter of the Korean War Veterans of America. Both of us were members of the Oregon Trail Chapter.

“We lost Richard on Labor Day. I picked up the ball and decided to do it — and do it now,” since most Korean War veterans are more than 80 years old, he said.

Keesee said he went through lists of names, including those invited to the August medal event, and invited 16 veterans to a December meeting.

“Fourteen showed up. We voted the chapter into existence with a show of hands,” Keesee said.

The Korean War started on June 25, 1950; hostilities ended July 27, 1953.

However, it doesn’t take wartime service in Korea to qualify for the association, Keesee said.

Any veteran who served in Korea or its territorial waters from Sept. 3, 1945, to the present is eligible, according to the national association’s membership application form.

And, any veteran who served outside of Korea from June 25, 1950, to Jan. 31, 1955, is eligible.

“I never left the States” during the Korean War, the Air Force veteran said. “I served in Texas and Oklahoma.”

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