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“We Take Pride In What We Accomplished” Canadian Vets Remember The Korean War

MORE THAN 26,000 CANADIAN FORCES WERE DEPLOYED TO ASSIST SOUTH KOREA

Courtesy of Barrie360.com and Canadian PressPublished: Jul 24th, 2023

Sharif Hassan, The Canadian Press

Bill Black still gets letters and cards thanking him and other Canadian veterans for their service in the Korean War.

Quite a few of those notes from South Koreans have arrived lately at the Korea Veterans Association, where Black is president of an Ottawa chapter, as the 70th anniversary of the armistice in that conflict approaches. 

More than 26,000 Canadian Armed Forces were deployed to assist South Korea after it was invaded by North Korea in 1950 and 7,000 more followed to help with peacekeeping after the armistice was signed on July 27, 1953. 

Black was part of the peacekeeping contingent. He worked on a navy destroyer assigned to patrol South Korean waters and says it remains an honour to have served. 

“We take pride in what we accomplished there, all of our Canadian veterans who served in Korea take pride,” the 89−year−old Canadian veteran says. 

“We sort of slap ourselves on the back that we were there to contribute, to aid them.”

Canada lost 516 soldiers in the Korean War, according to figures from the federal government, making it the third-deadliest conflict fought by the country. 

Black was deployed to South Korea in 1954, about six months after the armistice was signed. The war – which is still technically ongoing – had devastated the country, he recalls. 

“It was appalling,” he says, recalling seeing “starving” residents and many whose lives had been completely upended by the conflict. 

“We saw the orphans in the streets … I felt very sad.” 

Black says he hoped the contribution of U.S.−led troops, including himself, could bring relief to the war−weary country. Decades later, and after making two visits back to the country, he says he’s proud of how far South Korea has come. 

Patricia Dent

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