The division of the Korean Peninsula following World War II, along with growing Cold War tension between the United States and the Soviet Union, and the eventual invasion of troops from the North Korea into South Korea led to the confrontation in June 1950.
Canada joined other Commonwealth countries, along with the United States, the United Nations and several others, in an effort to repel the North back to its side of the 38th Parallel.
Ceasefire negotiations began in July 1951, and two years of fighting later, an armistice was signed July 27, 1953 – 60 years ago this summer.
Hostilities on the Korean Peninsula between the two sides continue to this day. After the war, United States Forces Korea was established. It is still in place with some 28,500 personnel stationed in South Korea.
According to the Korean Veterans Association of Canada website, Canadian troops arrived in Korea in December 1950, underwent extensive training and saw their first action in February 1951.
Veterans Affairs Canada statistic indicate 26,791 Canadians served in the Korean War. In all, 516 of them from all across all parts of the country were killed during the war. About 10,600 Canadian veterans of the Korean War, at an average age of 80, are still living.
Many Newfoundlanders were wounded and several paid the supreme sacrifice during the conflict.
Amongst the official casualty lists provided on the Korean Veterans Association’s website, in early 1951 Private Willis Chesley Baker of Corner Brook was the first person from this province to be wounded in the war. In the official list for July 6, 1951, Private Arthur Stanley Guy from Bell Island was the first Newfoundlander to lose his life.
For certain, residents of the Burin Peninsula were also engaged in the war.
The name of Private Freeman Frank Hillier of Lamaline is recorded amidst a lengthy group of wounded soldiers in the official casualty list for Oct. 16, 1952.
Tuesday, Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney announced 2013 as the ‘Year of the Korean War Veteran’, giving the conflict some extra special attention this year.
Given the massive scale of World War I and World War II, it’s not hard to see why the Korean War is sometimes considered ‘The Forgotten War’.
But no war should ever be forgotten and Canadians who fought in Korea are every bit as deserving of our gratitude as all others who have fought on our behalf.
A generation from now will the sacrifices made by brave Canadian men and women who served in Afghanistan have faded from memory? Let’s hope not.