Korean vets finally receiving recognition

John Brannen, The News
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WESTVILLE – Vincent Joyce walks over to one of the many displays of medals at the Pictou County Military Heritage Museum. He stops at those of Sgt. Russell J. MacDonald of the Calgary Highlanders and points at the bright yellow ribbons.

“It’s these three medals here,” he said. “These three are for service in the Korean War.”

Thanks to a growing acknowledgement of the 1950-53 war and the men and women who served in it, there may be one more medal for veterans.

Joyce, president and founder of the museum, has been working to get recognition for veterans in Pictou County, whose numbers are dwindling.

News that the Korean Ambassador to Canada would be awarding a medal to honour Canadian veterans was just what he wanted to hear.

“Last summer, certificates were given to vets by the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Joyce. “Those present received certificates from the government and the forces, and a plaque from the military museum.”

Last year’s Jul. 27 ceremony was attended by former Defence Minister Peter MacKay and former Chief of the Defence Staff retired Gen. Walt Natynczyk and recognized 17 veterans.

After several calls to Ottawa and Montreal, Joyce made his case to Susan Ahn, the executive secretary of the consulate for the Republic of Korea. Through his efforts, he’s been able to arrange a medal presentation ceremony in Westville with a representative of the South Korean government.

“The time and date are yet to be set,” said Joyce. “This is so I have time to find veterans in and around the county and let people contact me about receiving a medal.”

He allotted about three weeks for the nomination period. After that, the names will be submitted to receive medals.

“The presentation ceremony will definitely be within a year,” said Joyce. “They may want to have it on July 27, the official Korean War Veterans Day made law by the Canadian government last year.”

Joyce will be insisting that it will be sooner.

“These vets aren’t getting any younger,” he said. “And this particular medal will not be given out posthumously.”

The growing recognition of what took place on the Korean Peninsula over 60 years ago moved the government to mark 2013 as the Year of the Korean War Veteran.

“First it was just known as a peacekeeping mission, then a conflict, but now it’s a War. We’ve got around 20 guys in Pictou County alone who are alive.”

He also noted servicemen who gave supreme sacrifice.

“It’s the museum’s job to honour all vets. They went to a foreign country to fight. Now, South Korea is one of the most prosperous countries around.”

If you are a Korean War veteran or know one, you can call 396-2194.

 

john.brannen@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: @NGNewsJohn

 

____

Canadians in Korea

26,791 Canadians served in the Canadian Army Special Force. 

516 of them gave their lives.

9,900 veterans of the Korean War are still alive today.

81 is their average age.

 

Source: Veterans Affairs Canada

Organizations: Department of Veterans Affairs, Canadian Army Special Force, Veterans Affairs Canada

Geographic location: Pictou County, Republic of Korea, Canada Ottawa Montreal Westville Korean Peninsula

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Recent comments

  • lee,byungyong
    January 17, 2014 - 11:40

    i am korean, freedom is not free, i always remember you. now i am ""photograph project for un 21 countries veterans to korean war" vol 1 "ethiopia", vol 2 "turkey" was over. next colombia, america, canada is 2014.

  • Phyllis Weaver
    January 16, 2014 - 08:35

    Great job you are doi g there. I'm sure vets & all appreciate the time you give