The “forgotten war” will be remembered in 2013. This year is the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Korea Armistice Agreement and Veteran Affairs Minister Steven Blaney has announced that the government will mark 2013 as the Year of the Korean War Veteran. “It is our duty today to pay tribute to more than 26,000 Canadian men and women in uniform who came to the aid of South Koreans during the Korean War,” he said at a news conference Jan. 8 at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa.
Legion Magazine was one of a number of invited guests at the event. The magazine’s chairman, Tom Eagles, was invited to say a few words about Canvet’s special edition titled Korea: The Forgotten War 1950-53. After thanking the 16 Korean War veterans there, Eagles said, “This publication on the Korean War was one we felt we had to do… Just five short years after Canadians had returned home from the Second World War, they were once again called upon to leave their homes and set out for a distant land to halt an aggressive enemy.
“Canada sent ships, an RCAF air transportation squadron and a ground force,” he continued. “In the active portion of the war—from February 1951 to July 1953—21,940 Canadian soldiers and more than 4,000 sailors and airmen would serve. The names of the 516 Canadians who died are listed in the Korea Book of Remembrance displayed in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower in Ottawa.”
Eagles brought a box of 30 books and minutes after setting the box down the veterans were eyes and nose into the 100-page edition. Sharing memories and pointing to photographs, they recalled where they served and who they served with. “That guy still owes me 40 bucks!” one veteran hollered after seeing the photo of a young soldier among the hundreds of archival photos.
Finding a photo of his damaged ship, Dan Kendrick and two other veterans explained that they served together. “The three of us were on the same ship—HMCS Huron,” Kendrick explained. He remembered running aground in July 1953 on the west tip of Pang Yang-Do, an island just off the North Korean east coast—the end nearest to the enemy-held mainland. “When we ran aground it was foggy and we were on the side of the island and the enemy was on the mainland. If they could have seen us they could have blown us out of the water. But we worked ourselves off the island…just after four o’clock in the morning. We got around the other side until we could get ourselves straightened out.” Once free, Huron was towed to safety by a United States Navy fleet tug.
The minister was joined by a number of special guests including Senator Yonah Martin, Royal Canadian Legion Dominion Secretary Brad White and former Legion grand president Charles Belzile who, as a Korean War veteran himself, reminded those present that the ceasefire was not the end of problems in Korea.
The publication can still be purchased for $14.95 on newsstands at retail outlets such as Chapters, Wal-Mart and Shoppers Drug Mart until March 5, 2013, after which it is available by calling 613-591-0116.