Walck still changing young lives with his boyhood hobby

RACHEL BARTLETT, Echo Pilot intern
Richard Walck shared his unique collection with G-AHS students.

Richard Walck, an 85-year-old resident of Greencastle, brought his impressive collection of World War II artifacts into Greencastle-Antrim High School recently. He shared his stories and memories with the students of several history classes, educating them on life during WWII as a young boy.

His collection contains a few hundred items including scrapbooks, ribbons, pictures, newspapers, belts, medals, helmets, armbands, letters, and a war bond book. The uniqueness of his artifacts is not in the number or type, but that they are mostly civilian belongings, not military, and that they are American and foreign. A few of his most treasured items are the white helmet that belonged to his uncle, and a pair of wooden shoes that an Italian prison carved for him.

Walck shared many stories with the students about the war and life in Greencastle during that time. He described a time when he was riding through an apple orchard, which was located on the corner of Addison and Washington streets, where the dentist office is now, he stumbled upon a soldier’s lost helmet. He held up that same helmet when telling the story, making it more intriguing for the students. He also said that during that same time, gas was sold for $0.17 per gallon, not $3.25 like it is today.

Growing up, Walck was fascinated with everything having to do with the war. He put his entire collection together during his seventh-grade year, and not one artifact has been added since then. Whenever he would see a soldier on the street, he would go up and ask for their name and address. He would then rush home and write them letters. He continued his tradition of writing when he was in the Air Force as he wrote to 76 boys and girls.

Walck entered into the Air Force at the same time it was being renamed from the Army Air Force to the Air Force and served from 1952-1956. He was in basic training at the Sampson Air Force Base in Geneva, N.Y., before being stationed for 2 1/2 years in Texas and 1 year in New Mexico. While serving he was a messenger boy, and his duty was to tell people to turn off their lights when an air raid was suspected to happen.

Walck was able to bring a piece of history to life for the students in the Greencastle-Antrim High School. Encouraging them to touch and read what he had collected, he brought to life an event that was important to many. Walck is not just another man sharing his passion with the students of today, he is a man that affected the lives of hundreds during the war and is still managing to change the young people of today.