As we continue to celebrate Veterans Day, a Penfield woman is trying to find Korean War vets and their families. Betty Perkins-Carpenter has in her possession Department of Defense photos taken during the conflict, and she wants to return them to the service members in those pictures or their families. That mission has become a nationwide search.
”They're just wonderful pictures and there's just so many of them."
Hundreds to be exact. Betty Perkins-Carpenter, a former Air Force Sergeant who served during the Korean War, says the photos were given to a local veterans post by a surviving relative of a Korean War Vet. One day, the post commander asked Betty she'd like to look at them.
"When I saw them, I just felt I got to find these families because it might be a father that never came home, or it might be a brother or sister, uncle or whatever," she said.
Betty is now searching the country for those depicted in the photos. She says they were taken by official Department of Defense photographers in June, July, and August 1950.
She has a list of names and hometowns of some of the Korean War vets. Many of the pictures identify who is in them, while others give only a location of somewhere in Korea.
So far, Betty says she's been in contact with three veterans, including a former Prisoner of War.
"One was deceased. I haven't been able to find any living relatives. The other one was someone who had some bad experiences and he didn't want his picture, and the other one the prisoner of war so far."
Korea is sometimes referred to as the forgotten war. Betty believes her photographs have historic value and are a way to give these veterans the recognition they deserve.
More than 36,000 Americans died in the Korean War. There is no way for Betty to know how many of those in the photographs survived or have since passed away.
"There's got to be cousins, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters and children grand children. This would mean so much to them. It really would."
Perkins-Carpenter says her biggest obstacle is getting the word out that these pictures exist.
"I'm just going to try getting it in magazines and newspapers and on the media. I just need help in getting people looking at the list. 'Gee, is that my neighbor, is that somebody at my synagogue, is that somebody at my church?' We just need to get people looking at this list and thinking who they might know. It might be their neighbor right next door."
A list of some of the vets in the photos is posted on the National Association of Uniformed Services web site. It's also been featured in some military magazines.
Service members and their families can call Betty Perkins-Carpenter at (585) 586-7548 or 1-800-306-3137 if you believe you or a loved one is in one of those photos.