Sometimes referred to as the “Forgotten War,” The Korean War was a war between the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea due to a political division. It lasted from June 25, 1950 – July 27, 1953. Many military servicemen from numerous countries went into combat to fight the enemy. From that war, under Canadian casualties and losses this was reported: 312 dead, 1,212 wounded, 1 MIA and 32 POW.
At North 82, the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 25 held a luncheon in honour of these courageous men. Of course, they will deny this description of them but in my mind any man or woman who willingly fights for freedom in any country to restore peace, is a brave and courageous person. Today nine Korean Veterans received the Ambassador of Peace Medals for their participation and valour during the Korean War.
Larry Jollineau, President of the Korean Veterans Association Unit 31 was the Master of Ceremonies. He is also a Korean Veteran who went to Korea about two and a half years ago to receive his medal. He recalled, “It was a beautiful ceremony and very dignified.” Also in attendance was Marilyn Isaacson, President of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 25 who assisted in the awards presentation. She would like to inform anyone who served in Korea and has not been given this medal to contact the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 25 about receiving the Ambassador of Peace Medal.
Besides receiving these medals, they were given an official proclamation which read, “It is a great honour and pleasure to express the everlasting gratitude of the Republic of Korea and our people for the service you and your countrymen have performed in restoring and preserving our freedom and democracy. We cherish in our hearts the memory of your boundless sacrifices in helping us establish our Free Nation. In grateful recognition of your dedicated contributions, it is our privilege to proclaim you an “AMBASSADOR OF PEACE” with every good wish of people of the Republic of Korea. Let each of us reaffirm our mutual respect and friendship that they may endure for generations to come.” It is signed by Park, Sung Chung Minister Patriots and Veterans Affairs Republic of Korea and by Park, Se Hwan Gen. (Ret.) ROK Army Chairman Korean Veterans Association.
Recipients like Jim Brawley who upon receiving his medal stated, “This was very nice.” Dan Desjardin remarked that Larry Jollineau called to tell me and I thought it was OK.” Joe Gobet commented, “It’s really nice but why did they wait so long? When I was over there, I gave some of my rations to the Korean kids.” Aurel LeBlanc’s statement was, “I thought it was very nice but we should’ve received these years ago when we returned from Korea. Better late than never.” Richard LeClair said, “It was very good.” Gerry Mancuso voiced, “I appreciate the medal. My brother Jack was in Korea too. He died at forty-four and is pictured every year in the Remembrance Day section in the newspaper.” Earl Mattice said, It’s nice that they recognize Canadians were there to free their country.” When I asked Don Neal his feelings on receiving this medal he stated, “I am happier than an old pet dog.” Marland Smith exclaimed, “I appreciate it and it was a surprise. I’ve received Canadian medals but I never got anything like this before. My children are very proud.”
What I perceive from all of their comments is that these men of valour are all humble and modest gentlemen. In the Korean War, they did what they were called upon to do and never looked back.
Lest we forget.
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