War veterans’ visit to Korea was memorable

This year is the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. The government of Korea invited veterans of the Commonwealth countries for a revisit this year.

This year is the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. The government of Korea invited veterans of the Commonwealth countries for a revisit this year. There were 62 Canadians who went in April. More will go later.

Our visit lasted a week and was memorable. The country has progressed so much in 60 years! I returned 28 years ago and was amazed at their progress. It made fighting there worthwhile.

They are justifiably proud that now they are able to “give” to those in need and have recently been able to do this for Haiti. The country is clean — no garbage in the cities; no crime.

We visited many battle sites and held commemorative services at each. It was very moving.

The people are so appreciative of the sacrifice the veterans made in fighting for them when they needed help. They couldn’t do enough for us!

Members of the British, Australian and New Zealanders attended with the Canadians. Canada had 27,000 men involved, and 516 paid the supreme sacrifice.

We visited Kapyong (now Gapyong) site where the Canadians and Australians stopped the Chinese advance, as the Chinese had broken through at that point. Negotiations toward a ceasefire began then and continued for two years. We looked across the 38th Parallel (at Panminjom) and saw the North Koreans looking back at us.

We used the bullet train to travel to the UN cemetery in Pusan (now Busan). The North Koreans continue tunnelling under the demilitarized zone, even through the bedrock, in efforts to reach Seoul — and take over the country. In the tunnels that have been discovered, 10,000 troops could move through one tunnel overnight! Recently two more tunnels have been discovered.

We stayed in a five-star hotel and ate western and Korean cuisine — all paid for by the Korean people! One half of our airfare was paid for us.

The people are a gentle people; hard-working and progressive. We were shown a wonderful time and saw a thriving and happy people.

Herman Thorsen

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