Robert Carter, 91, was looking through a Legion Magazine earlier this year when he spotted someone he hadn’t seen for 70 years.
“Oh I recognized his face for sure,” Carter laughed. “I looked at it and thought, ‘God, I know that guy, Charlie.’ We hadn’t seen each other since right after the war, I guess.”
Carter and Charlie Walker met when they dated sisters in 1943. They went into separate military branches for World War II. Carter served in the Navy and Walker joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. After the war, Walker married his girlfriend but Carter broke up with his.
When Carter saw Walker’s picture in that magazine 70 years later, he figured it was a good time to see how his old girlfriend had done after him.
“Once Amy got away, I lost contact all together,” he said. “I saw Charlie’s picture, I thought, good chance I can find out what happened to the family.”
Carter reached out to Ludmila Schnaider, the author and photographer of the story. She arranged a meeting between the two veterans.
“A week after (the article came out), I get an email from Bob that he told me, ‘I recognize my friend and I want to meet him,’” Schnaider said. “Like a bomb (went off) I went, ‘Wow. Seventy years after he found his friend.”
On April 3, Schnaider drove Carter out to Walker’s rural home in Roseneath, just north of Cobourg.
“When I came to the door and Charlie came out, it was just like it happened yesterday,” Carter said. “It was nice. It was a good feeling. I told a lot of people when I went home that night that was one of the best afternoons I spent in a long time.”
“It’s amazing what happens sometimes in one’s lifetime when people out of the dim past suddenly get together,” Walker, 92, said.
Schnaider is the creator of the historical art project called My Dear Veterans, a non-profit exhibit. It includes 60 pictures of World War II veterans. Walker and Carter are each featured in the exhibit.
Schnaider says that the reunion was an unexpected bonus for the project she’s worked on for two years. She said:
“When I see their eyes, when I see how they are smiling … I think, ‘I need to continue this. This is a good thing I am doing’.”