Master Corporal James Cummings (left) stands with Korea veteran John Henshaw (right) after he received gift on July 31. The gifts are from the Korean embassy and were distributed through a partnership between Garrison Petawawa and the Korea Veterans Association of Canada. (Submitted photo)
Master Corporal James Cummings (left) stands with Korea veteran Bob Clark (right) after he received gift on July 31. The gifts are from the Korean embassy and were distributed through a partnership between Garrison Petawawa and the Korea Veterans Association of Canada. (Submitted photo)
Master Corporal Goldie Kohorst with 4th Canadian Division Support Group (4 CDSG) Signal Squadron, Alpha Troop gives Retired Sergeant Bill Humphries a gift on behalf of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea to Canada. They stand in his backyard in Petawawa on Aug. 5. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
Korea veteran Jim Morris also received a gift, presented by Master Warrant Officer Axel Stutzinger on Aug. 5 at Riverview Heights in Pembroke. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
Korean War veterans honoured with special gift from embassy
By Patricia Lebeouf
Posted on Thursday August 20, 2020
June 25, 2020 marked the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War, one of the most significant chapters in Canada’s proud military history.
Over 26,000 Canadians served overseas between 1950 and 1953; 516 lost their lives and 1,235 were injured. Today, the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan, South Korea is the final resting place of 378 of those military members who did not return home.
Despite this, the conflict is often referred to as the Forgotten War because of the lack of public attention it received both during and after.
But the veterans who served and sacrificed there, now in their 80s and 90s, remember.
As does the Embassy of the Republic of Korea to Canada, who reached out to these brave Canadians once again to show their continued and deep gratitude.
Local Korea veterans were given a special gift from the embassy, the distribution of which was done through a partnership between the Korea Veterans Association of Canada and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel at Garrison Petawawa.
Over the past few weeks, CAF members have been presenting these gifts in person to each veteran, maintaining COVID-19 health protocols while engaging in lively conversations about their time in the service.
“I thought it would be wonderful to have current-day soldiers connect with veterans from 70 years ago,” said Lieutenant Commander (Ret’d) Bill Black, President, Unit 7, Korea Veterans Association of Canada.
“They’ve all got stories to tell,” he said, noting he was in the navy at the time of the conflict. “It would be nice to see the army reconnect more with our veterans there, because in a few more years, that will be it.”
Retired Corporal (Ret’d Cpl) Jim Morris remembers his time overseas vividly. He recalled, in particular, the sound of the Chinese bugles that continuously played night and day.
As they didn’t have any radios, they communicated with whistles and bugles. They also played messages on stereos, and Morris jokes that they must still be there in the fields somewhere.
He’ll also never forget how much he appreciated the Korean people and the bonds they shared in battle.
“I can’t say enough about the Koreans,” recalled Morris.
Master Warrant Officer (MWO) Axel Stutzinger was chosen to present the gift to Morris at the doors of Riverview Heights in Pembroke. Both share the same trade: Electrical and Mechanical Engineer with the Corps of Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RCEME).
“It is really amazing,” said MWO Stutzinger. “It was nice that they recognized somebody who was RCEME and they found somebody who could present it.”
It was an honour to be chosen for this task, he added.
This sentiment was shared by Master Corporal (MCpl) Goldie Kohorst and Sergeant (Sgt) Ian Mandryk, 4th Canadian Division Support Group (4 CDSG) Signal Squadron, Alpha Troop.
They presented a gift to Retired Sergeant (Ret’d Sgt) Bill Humphries at his home in Petawawa.
“Being an Afghanistan veteran, I appreciate what you put yourself through to get here,” said Sgt Mandryk.
Humphries, who served with the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, was grateful for this gift. He deployed to Korea in 1952 and spent a year in the conflict.
MCpl Kohorst thanked him for helping pave the way for the future generations of military members.
“So far, so good,” Humphries said with a smile.
Six Korean War veterans in Petawawa and Pembroke have been given gifts, distributed over several days. Gifts are yet to be delivered to veterans Mervin Fediuk, Tom Thorley and Jim Clarke.
In addition to these gifts, there is talk that the Republic of Korea Army will bring some of the Canadian veterans back to Korea as a way to honour them, which Black is hoping comes to pass.
“They are trying to organize that now,” he said. “That would be really interesting.”