Stories to tell

Bob Peake, of Washougal, has a few momentos that remind him of his time served in the Navy during the Korean War.

Peake, 80, served 1 1/2 years each on three ships — a destroyer the USS Higbee, an unnamed LSSL-116 transported from Astoria, Ore., to the South Korean government, and the USS Dixie. He has a print of the USS Dixie, shown at sea accompanied by destroyers.

Peake, a former quartermaster second class, also has two framed pieces of wire fence that used to be located in the Demilitarized Zone at the 38th Parallel between North and South Korea. One of the framed pieces was provided by the Vancouver Korean Society, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War in 1950.

The other framed piece of wire fence was delivered by Stan Nystrom, a Washougal resident and former Camas insurance agent. Nystrom’s son-in-law Elton served in Korea. The keepsake was provided by the Republic of Korea in gratitude to American soldiers.

Peake is among the area’s service members involved in the formation of the Richard L. Quatier chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association of Southwest Washington.

He and Jerry Keesee discussed creating the veterans group in November 2011. Peake and Keesee knew each other through area Veterans of Foreign War programs and the Korean War Veterans Association of Portland.

The Southwest Washington chapter has met twice.

“We’ve had as many as 72 at the first gatherings,” Peake said. “We sponsor different events for our soldiers who are stationed in Korea. We support our troops in Korea today, and we help to support them as they return.”

The chapter’s namesake, Quatier, of Vancouver, was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Schick-Ogle Post 4278. He died in September 2011.

Keesee, commander of the area chapter of Korean War veterans, described Quatier as his “partner in crime, right hand man and dear brother in arms.”

The chapter held elections in February. Harold Olson, of Vancouver, serves as first vice commander. Norman Ballard, of Battle Ground, is the second vice commander. The treasurer is Shel Rama, of Vancouver, and Everett Cook, of Vancouver, is the adjutant.

Jim Moody, of Vancouver, serves as the chapter’s webmaster, and Peake is the sergeant-at-arms.

“The average age of these veterans is 80,” Keesee said. “The veterans are there, and they are just waiting to be recognized. Every one of them has a story to tell. We need to get those stories recorded before it’s too late.”

The Korean War Veterans Association of Southwest Washington will meet Wednesday, March 21, at 10 a.m., in the Box Car Room, at the American Legion 40 et 8 Chateau, 7607 N.E. 26th Ave., Hazel Dell. Lunch is available following the meeting for $6 per person.

Membership is available for any veteran who served in Korea, from Sept. 3, 1945, to the present, and individuals who were in the U.S. military serving anywhere between June 25, 1950, to Jan. 31, 1955.

For more information, contact Keesee at 573-1035 or