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Website seeks to connect Korea vets with original wartime photos

Aug. 20, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
More than 5.7 million Americans served in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953.
More than 5.7 million Americans served in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. (Courtesy of the Democrat and Chronicle)
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A New York state-based project seeks to connect Korean Warw photos with the soldiers featured in them or their families. (Courtesy of the Democrat and Chronicle)

More than 5.7 million Americans served in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. The U.S. Department of Defense chronicled America’s involvement through photographs, a collection of which found its way into the care of Air Force veteran Betty Perkins-Carpenter, a resident of Penfield, New York. Now, Perkins-Carpenter would like to pass on these original photos, which remain in excellent quality, to the men and women pictured in them or their families.

The Democrat and Chronicle, owned by the same parent company as Army Times, has teamed up with Kodak Alaris to share the photos with a wide audience. Digital files scanned by Kodak Alaris have been used to create this website.

Keep an eye open for people or places you might recognize. You can search the gallery for a name, hometown, battle or date by using the search bar below. Click a photo to view it in a larger format and access a link to email Perkins-Carpenter to inquire about a photo.

All of the photographs were taken during the early months of the Korean War in the summer of 1950.

The objective of this project is to connect these photos with the soldiers featured in them or their families. Making these connections is a labor of love for a small, collaborative team led by Perkins-Carpenter.

She belongs to the Korean War Veterans Association Monroe County Chapter, which received the collection from the daughter of a Korean War veteran, at his passing.

The photographs were taken in June, July and August of 1950.

“The thing about these pictures is that’s when most of our men were killed, right there at the beginning of the war,” said Perkins-Carpenter, who has had the photos for two years.

“It’s so important to get these out. Some of these people spend a whole lifetime trying to find out what happened to (members of) their families.”

Original, black-and-white images, were carefully scanned in Rochester, N.Y., by staff at Kodak Alaris. The scans are of the original, black-and-white, 8x10 glossy photographs, all released by the Department of Defense. Moreover, the photographs feature captions as well, captured during the scanning process; many include important details such as names, hometowns, ranks and branch of service.

Previously, two people recognized someone in one of the photos and contacted Perkins-Carpenter to claim the photos. William Funchess is a former prisoner of war in Korea, and author of Korean P.O.W. A Thousand Days of Torment; he was pictured in a photo. Tiana Stephens, who works for the City of Rochester, claimed a photo of her grandfather.

“A couple of TV stations [in Rochester] had picked up Betty’s story,” Stephens said. “I was watching these beautiful photos and I saw a face. I thought, ‘That looked like my grandpa! There’s absolutely no way.’”

Stephens recalls the moment when she finally matched the photo from the collection with a family photo of her grandfather.

“It was a mirror image of him. It was so exciting to have this piece of history, this piece of my family back. To hold the photo and to flip it over and to read what they were doing.” The caption on Stephen’s photo reads: American soldiers enjoy their first soft drinks during a break in the battle against Communist led North Korean invaders, somewhere in Korea.

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