By Sarah Johnson
Missourian Staff Writer
A friendship formed between two Air Force servicemen was rekindled last weekend after nearly 60 years.
Jim Wright and Raymond Yust went to their destination in Korea in 1954 on the same boat, but didn’t meet until they were both assigned to the same building in Osan, Korea.
The two men formed a fast friendship and spent much of their off-duty time hanging out together, they said.
“Both of us were rather privileged,” Yust said. “We actually got cold beer.”
The men talked a lot during the year they were there, Yust reminiscing about his life back home in Augusta and Wright talking about his life in St. Louis.
They talked about going home and “getting the dust out of their lungs,” Yust said.
Yust and Wright flew back to the United States in 1955, and both were briefly stationed in California before they were officially discharged.
Then they lost track of each other.
“I always wondered what happened to him,” Wright said.
“I looked for him for a while, but we didn’t have computers back then,” Yust said.
Wright, who has family members in Washington, would make a trip with them to the Augusta wineries every year.
“Every time we went there I would think about Ray,” he said. “I would ask people there if they knew him and if they did, I would leave my business card in case they ran into him.”
Wright said a couple of months ago he and his son and daughter-in-law went back to Augusta and once again, Wright was wondering what happened to Yust.
“I was talking about Ray and my daughter-in-law had her computer with her and she Googled him,” he said. “We found his address in Kansas City and phone number and I called him and left him a message.”
Yust called Wright the next day and they talked for more than two hours. They decided to meet in Washington on Oct. 26.
The two men enjoyed the day at John G’s Bier Deck with their families, looking at old photos and reminiscing about old times in Korea and talking about the last five decades that they were apart.
They also discovered that their paths unknowingly had crossed way before the two men met for the first time in Korea.
“Jim and I both grew up in south St. Louis,” Yust said. “We were both part of the same knothole gang that watched the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Browns.”
Wright said Yust had always talked about his home in Augusta so he had just assumed Yust had lived there his whole life.
Wright, now 83, said he and Yust, 84, plan to meet at least three times a year and the two men vowed not to lose track of each other again.
“I’m very happy Ray is in my life again,” Wright said.