Aug 10, 2013 | Vote 1    0

Korean War vets get recognition from mayor

Seven soldiers presented with pins for their service

Mayor Bob Bratina presents a special Korean Veteran Pin to James King of St. Catharines at Hamilton City Hall Friday evening to mark PMayor Bob Bratina presents a special Korean Veteran Pin to James King of St. Catharines at Hamilton City Hall Friday evening to mark PeacekeeperMayor Bob Bratina presents a special Korean Veteran Pin to James King of St. Catharines at Hamilton City Hall Friday evening to mark Peacekeepers' Day.

Daniel Nolan 

Jim King is pleased to be recognized by the City of Hamilton for his service in war-torn Korea 60 years ago, but laments recognition has been a longtime coming.

 

"I really appreciate it," the 79-year-old St. Catharines resident said Friday night after he and six other Korean vets were presented with special Korean Veteran Pins by Mayor Bob Bratina. "It's about time the Canadian government recognized us, too."

Two medals were struck in the 1950s by the Canadian government to recognize service by Korean vets — a third was instituted in 1991 — but King doesn't feel the government looked after vets when they returned from the war.

King, who was a boxer in the Canadian Army, arrived in Korea three months after the 1953 armistice. He said he may have missed the fighting, but said: "There was still everything there. The snipers, the landmines … Korea was in the crap."

He recalled when he got back to North America, he was put on a train in Seattle with other Canadian soldiers and was forbidden to leave the train during its cross-country trip to Halifax. He said military police greeted the train at stations. "They didn't celebrate us when we came home," said King, who remained in the army and rose to become a major in the reserves. "I got back to my train station and I still had 10 miles to go before I was home. I had to hitchhike."

More than 50 people attended the ceremony at City Hall, which also recognized UN peacekeepers. Aug. 9 is Peacekeepers' Day and is held each year to recognize the nine peacekeepers that were killed Aug. 9, 1974, when the RCAF aircraft they were in was shot down over Syria. Also presented with Korean Veteran Pins were Hub LaLonde, 82; Romeo Daley, 81; Ed Heatley, 83; Al McKelvey, 82; Ernie Churchill, 80, and Sing Kim 84, who served in the South Korean army.

Apart from Korea, the mayor had pins made to recognize those who have served in the Second World War, Afghanistan and on peacekeeping operations. His military adviser, retired Colonel Geordie Elms, said since the program was instituted, the mayor has presented 23 Korean pins, 60 Afghanistan pins and 60 peacekeeping pins. He has given out Second World War pins, but didn't have a tally.

Canada has declared 2013 the Year of the Korean War Veteran.