Soldier Quartet Made Harmony in Wartime Larry Stayer of Tulsa, Okla., is the surviving member of a group of four National Guardsmen who sang as a barbershop quartet during the Korean War. They performed and recorded songs while stationed in northern Japan. He recalls making harmony in a time of conflict.
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Soldier Quartet Made Harmony in Wartime

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Soldier Quartet Made Harmony in Wartime

Soldier Quartet Made Harmony in Wartime

Soldier Quartet Made Harmony in Wartime

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/5435584/5437868" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Bernard Whaley (left), Larry Stayer (rear) with unidentified pals. Courtesy of Terrance Whaley hide caption

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Courtesy of Terrance Whaley

Bernard Whaley (left), Larry Stayer (rear) with unidentified pals.

Courtesy of Terrance Whaley

Larry Stayer and Bernard Whaley crooned their way through the military. It was 1950 and the National Guard had been activated for the Korean War. Stationed at Camp Polk, La., they began singing together to pass the time. The two soon found a baritone and bass in Jack Goza and John Mueller and formed "The Four Fifths," a barbershop quartet that performed and recorded locally.

Shipped to northern Japan, the group started a much-praised weekly radio show.

After the war, the men returned to their civilian lives in Ohio, Georgia, Michigan and Oklahoma. "We never could quite get a time to all get back together again," said Stayer. He's the last surviving member.

He talks about his favorite songs — among them "Laurabelle Lee" and the quartette from Rigoletto — and the group's days entertaining the troops in Sapporo, Japan.

Three from The Four Fifths

'Laurabelle Lee'

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'Mary/Marylou'

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'Down in Jungle Town'

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"The Four Fifths" of the 45th Division entertaining the troops. Courtesy of Terrance Whaley hide caption

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Courtesy of Terrance Whaley